By Sharon Robb
October 23, 2014—The FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup resumes Friday in Beijing, China with a star-studded field including three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club.
It is the fifth leg of the tour that started in Doha and Dubai in August. After a weak second cluster in Hong Kong and Moscow, the competition is expected to heat up in Beijing, Tokyo, Japan (Oct. 28-29) and Singapore (Nov. 1-2).
Atkinson, 25, will be focusing on the 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, 50 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 100 individual medley, according to her longtime SOFLO and Jamaican national team coach Chris Anderson.
Atkinson may also compete in the 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly depending on the field.
The meet has attracted 300 swimmers from 32 countries. Six world and 10 World Cup records have been broken during this year’s series.
The stakes will be high with $300,000 in prize money offered to the sixth highest ranked men and women swimmers.
After the Singapore leg, the men’s and women’s World Cup winners will earn $100,000, second place $50,000 and third place $30,000.
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu is the clearcut favorite to win her third World Cup title with 643 points. Inge Dekker of the Netherlands is second with 252 and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte is third with 180 points.
The men’s leader is Chad Le Clos of South Africa with 282 points followed by American Tom Shields with 225 points and Hungarian Daniel Gyurta with 200 points.
Australia is sending a large contingent of ten swimmers to the final three meets, including six to the opener, in preparation of the Nov. 5-9 Australian Short Course Championships.
China’s Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen have also entered the field for the first time along with Germany’s world record holder Paul Biedermann.
American long distance and open water swimmer Fran Crippen is being remembered on Thursday, four years after his life was tragically cut short during a FINA 10K open water swim on Oct. 23 ioff the United Arab Emirates.
The national team swimmer was 26.
Of all the tributes, USA Swimming’s Jack Roach said it best:
“Fran Crippen is a hero by every definition of the word. His love for life transcended the passions and depths he plunged into the sport of open water swimming with. Fran’s infectious smile and curiosity for others lives in his spirit that I am blessed to summon on runs loaded with excitement and a calmness through meditation that is silent in private thought. He is loved and missed by so many. Fran Crippen I salute you for your friendship and the way you lived your life.”…..
Brazilians Ana Marcela Cunha, who trained in South Florida, and Allan do Carmo won the overall women’s and men’s titles as the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup wrapped up its series in Hong Kong. Cunha finished with 148 points to win her third World Cup title. Carmo finished with 121 points.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org