Rio 2016 Olympic champions Katinka Hosszu, Anthony Ervin, Lilly King, and Ryan Murphy are among the participants confirmed for the inaugural FINA Champions Series, the governing body announced Friday.
World record holder Kathleen Baker and multi-time Olympic medalists Chad le Clos, Emily Seebohm, Dana Vollmer, Federica Pellegrini, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Laszlo Cseh will also join the series. Notably absent are newly-professional Americans Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, and Caeleb Dressel, as well as world champion and Rio silver medalist Chase Kalisz. The current field is also without any Japanese stars.
The Champions Series will be swum in long course with athletes participating on an invite-only basis and will include a team scoring format. It was announced in December amid FINA’s attempt to block the International Swim League, which has a similar format. The three-leg series has stops Guangzhou April 27-28, Budapest May 11-12, and Indianapolis May 31-June 1.
FINA sent invites to 45 male swimmers from 15 different countries, and to 37 female swimmers from 17 different countries, but we don’t know exactly who was invited. The list of invited swimmers includes “Rio 2016 Olympic medallists, Budapest 2017 World Championships’ medallists, World Record holders, and leaders of the 2018 FINA World Swimming Rankings,” FINA says.
SwimSwam previously reported that Yuliya Efimova, Sarah Sjostrom, Vlad Morozov, Anton Chupkov, Kliment Kolesnikov, Michael Andrew, Cate Campbell, Bruno Fratus, Felipe Lima, Nicholas Santos, Pieter Timmers, Etiene Medieros, and Franziska Hentke would participate.
Below is the running list of swimmers set to participate in at least one stop based on FINA‘s announcement and other reports:
The competition as a whole will lack distance events, with each meet including timed finals of just 50, 100, and 200m races in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly, as well as a 400 free and 200 IM. FINA will award nearly $4 million in prize money across the series, making it the richest swimming event in the organization’s history. It will also cover athletes’ travel costs and provide them with appearance money.
The series has drawn mixed reactions from swimmers who have been vocal in their criticism of FINA over the past few months. While the international swimmers Sjostrom and Campbell, as well as American Michael Andrew (currently suing FINA along with Hosszu and Tom Shields) have committed, Britain’s Adam Peaty announced Wednesday he would opt out but called the series “a step in the right direction.”