International stars Kliment Kolesnikov and Cate Campbell will race in the 2019 FINA Champions Series, headlining the growing list of athletes to commit over the past week.
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.
Kolesnikov will race the 50 and 100 back in Guangzhou, Budapest, and Indianapolis, Russian site RSport reported Tuesday. He joins Yuliya Efimova, Vlad Morozov, and Anton Chupkov among the Russian contingent set to race.
The Australian Campbell, who swam 2018’s fastest women’s 100 free (52.03), will reportedly race just the Guangzhou stop. After FINA forced a cancellation of the International Swimming League’s much-anticipated Energy for Swim meet in December, Campbell told The Daily Telegraph: “I think that FINA have forgotten that they exist because of athletes,” and stressed the importance of financially supporting athletes in order to expand the sport.
Among the others to commit recently are Brazil’s Felipe Lima and veteran Nicholas Santos, Germany’s Franziska Hentke, and Belgium’s Pieter Timmers. Lima (50 breast) and Santos (50 fly) will both swim all three stops. Hentke will swim the 200 fly in Budapest, and Timmers will swim the 100 free at all three stops.
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.
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 is drawing mixed reactions from swimmers who, like Campbell, have been vocal in their criticism of FINA over the past few months. While Swedish star Sarah Sjostrom and American Michael Andrew, who is currently suing the governing body, have committed, Britain’s Adam Peaty announced Wednesday he would opt out but called the series ‘a step in the right direction.”