After a lull for travel, Saturday will begin the second, European leg, of the 2012 FINA World Cup Series in Stockholm, Sweden. The short course meters meet will have another $102,000 in cash and prizes to give away, as well as valuable points toward the $100,000 grand prize.
Full Start lists here.
Points standings through Doha here.
Money standings through Doha here.
Katinka Hosszu and Kenneth To, the two points leaders are both swimming this meet. The Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina, who is currently tied with Hosszu, is not entered in this meet thus far, which should give Katinka the opportunity to break her points lead wide-open.
Most of the South Africans, who have been so successful, have gone home, but Darian Townsend, who sits 5th in the points standings, is still on board. In replacement, the women’s competition especially has skyrocketed, specifically with the addition of swimmers like Denmark’s Lotte Friis and Great Britain’s Hannah Miley to the meet lists. Jessica Hardy also joins the fun; she’s a legend on the World Cup circuit.
The Brazilians are also rolling into town, bringing somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 athletes with them. Among those recognizable names ares sprint breaststroker Joao Gomes, Jr., Henrique Rodrigues, Daynara de Paula, backstroker Guilherme Guido, Fabiola Molina (who is apparently not retired as she claimed she would), and Gabriel Mangabeira.
Additionally, the majority of the home-team Swedes will participate, most notably star Sarah Sjostrom.
Here are the top storylines to watch for to get you excited about this weekend’s meet.
1. Home Cooking – This isn’t Sjostrom’s first post-Olympic meet; last week in a local meet in Soedertaelje she swam a casual 58.94 short course warmup for this meet. She’s historically been spectacular at her home World Cup meet, and given her recent trends in long course, one wouldn’t expect much different here. She’s sticking to her core events (like she usually does at this meet) of the 50 and 100 fly, plus the 50 and 100 freestyles.
In those butterfly races, Therese Alshammar and Inge Dekker will be her biggest competition. Ilaria Bianchi isn’t seeded as high as those top three, but she broke through over the summer with a long course Italian National Record. Expect her to be competitive as well. She already has the record in short course, and could take it lower as early as this meet.
2. Hannah Gives Hosszu a Challenge – Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu rolled relatively easy through the Middle East to $22,000 in cash, raking up money in just about every event she shot for. She’s still got 9 individual entries in this meet, but the wins won’t come quite as easily. That’s due in part to the presence of Britain’s Hannah Miley, who is every bit as good of an IM’er as Hosszu is. Along with Hosszu’s countrymate Zsu Jakabos, the IM’s should get a lot more interesting in Sweden
3. The Lithuanian Lightning Takes on Hardy – 15-year old Olympic gold medalist Ruta Meilutyte, who is Lithuanian-born but British-trained, will make her first foray into the World Cup in Stockholm. At the Olympics, she took down the best long course breaststroker America has ever seen, Rebecca Soni. Here, though, she’ll have to taken on Jessica Hardy: who is arguably better in short course than even Soni is in long course. The two will show-down in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, along with the 50 and 100 freestyles, and the 100 IM. The two are very similar in that they have both at different points in their careers referred to themselves as sprint freestylers before returning to the breaststroke fold.
Don’t count out the home-town girls Jennie Johanssen and Joline Hostman. They’ve been very good, though against limited competition, in the first two meets.
4. Biedermann Joins His Girlfriend on Tour – After his girlfriend Britta Steffen looked pretty good in Doha and Dubai, German star Paul Biedermann will join the tour in Stockholm, and is expected to swim at least through Europe. He’s keeping his schedule light, with just a 200 and 400 free, and as the World Record holder in both races should be the favorite if he’s kept in good shape since the Olympics. His primary competition in each race is Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who hasn’t been exactly lights-out early in this year’s series. Tommaso D’Orsogna from Australia has looked good in the first two meets, and could make for a great three-man race in the 200.
5. Daiya Seto Settles In – Unless he adds more events as the meet nears, Japan’s Daiya Seto, who has been so good at this meet, is really settled into his primary events. His only entries in Stockholm so far are the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 fly. In previous stops, he had added event wins in the 200 breaststroke, as well.