Zhou Xin, FINA Media Committee Member CHN)

Led by Olympic champions Sarah Sjostrom, Katinka Hosszu and Chinese stars Xu Jiayu, Liu Xiang, Ye Shiwen, the FINA Swimming World Cup kicks -off tomorrow, Friday November 2, in Beijing (CHN) for the first leg of the final cluster. A record 244 swimmers from 27 countries will get off the blocks in the Water Cube.

This is the 15th Swimming World Cup meet in Beijing and 9th in the Water Cube, a venue that will be transformed into the Ice Cube to host the curling competition during the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022.

A total of 36 events will be held in the Water Cube while the competition is also a qualification event for the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) 2018 in 2018 Hangzhou in December.

Sarah Sjostrom, front runner so far in the women’s World Cup, revealed she just finished a three-week extensive training camp in Turkey.

"I just arrived yesterday. I am still fighting against the jet-lag. I am probably not in my best shape, maybe I can be better in Tokyo and Singapore. Besides that, I feel tired after three weeks of heavy training camp.”

“So this week I am going to adapt to time difference and get back to racing. But I will try to swim very very fast to get more points.”

"I enjoy being a swimmer, competing, training, traveling. That is why I can keep improving. I should say I love the 50m events, but so far 100m freestyle is my best event in short course," said Sjostrom who has won eight of the last 10 women's 100m freestyle in the World Cup, including three of four in 2018.

Known as the Iron Lady, Katinka Hosszu, has swept 20 individual women's events in the 2018 World Cup. In Beijing she will compete in 14 events.

Xu Jiayu became the local favourite after he claimed victory in the men's 100m backstroke in Budapest World Championships in 2017. 

"I take the World Cup as a serious preparation for the comping World Swimming Championships which is to be held in my hometown Hangzhou in December. I am looking forward to competing in front of my family members and friends," Xu said.

Liu Xiang, who just broke the women's 50m backstroke World Record in the Jakarta Asian Games in September, will show off in the 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke.

"I took a vacation after the Asian Games and did train as well as I did before the Asian Games. I hope I can do my best in the two 50m events on the first day," Liu said.

Former Olympic champion Ye Shiwen will make her comeback in the World Cup as she will compete in the 100m and 200m IM and 200m breaststroke.

"I focused on study since last year, I just want to test myself and try to earn a ticket to Hangzhou World Championships in my hometown, "said the 22-year-old Ye.