Dubai gets ready for star-studded Swimming World Cup

The FINA Swimming World Cup heads to Dubai again in October. Gruffudd Owen takes a look at one of the biggest events on the sport’s calendar, and the Olympic superstars who are set to compete   

Always one of the most thrilling Olympic sports, swimming was once again a must-watch event in Rio with world records getting smashed, legends bowing out in style and new stars tasting success on the biggest stage for the first time.

And the world’s best are back in action in Dubai at the start of October during the first Asian cluster of the 2016 FINA Swimming World Cup, where they will be racing at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

Here’s everything you need to know about the series – and who you should look out for when the athletes take to the pool.

1. A brief introduction
An annual series of meets separated into continent-specific ‘clusters’, the FINA Swimming World Cup is a short course competition, meaning all races take place in a standard 25-metre length pool. While this has been the case every year since its inaugural edition in 1988, an exception was made in 2015 when it was held in Olympic-sized long course (50m) pools in preparation for the Rio Games. 

2. Katinka Hosszu reigns as queen …
With three gold medals and one silver to her name at Rio 2016 – no other swimmer won more medals in individual events at the Games – Katinka Hosszu is very much the woman to beat in the sport today, a fact that is reflected in her World Cup performances. Not only has the 27-year-old won the overall title for the past four years, so far she has also enjoyed near-total dominance in this year’s meets. Another masterclass by the brilliant Hungarian in Dubai is a strong possibility.   

3. … while South Africa rules the roost among the men
If one person has ruled over the women’s competition in recent years, then one country has monopolised the men’s series. Three South Africans – Ryk Neethling (now retired), Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos – have won eight of the past 11 World Cups between them, with the trio also tasting Olympic gold in their careers. However, it is Vladimir Morozov who currently tops the men’s rankings, ahead of Le Clos in second. Can the 24-year-old leapfrog his Russian rival into first place during this cluster?

4. Destination Dubai
For the fifth consecutive year, Dubai will welcome the World Cup to the UAE. The meet will take place at the Hamdan Sports Complex. Completed in the summer of 2010 and hosting the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in the same year, the state-of-the-art arena accommodates 15,000 spectators. It is an impressive symbol of the city’s growing status as a world-class destination for competitive swimming and other sports; in December, the venue will host the BWF World Superseries Finals.

The Dubai meet of the 2016 FINA Swimming World Cup takes place at the Hamdan Sports Complex from 4-5 October.