PR74 - Stars flock to Durban (RSA) for first leg as World Cup kicks off


No shortage of stars are scheduled to race this year’s FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup, including the opener this weekend in Durban (RSA) from October 16-17, 2009 at the Kings Park Aquatic Centre. Short-course breaststroke world record holder Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) - also the 50m breaststroke World Champion from the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome in July, and defending World Cup champion from 2008 – will swim, as will Roland Schoeman and Gerhard Zandberg, who will clash in the 50m backstroke against Peter Marshall (USA). Other stars include Markus Rogan (AUS), Steffen Deibler (GER) and, among women, Jessica Hardy (USA) and breaststroke powerhouse Nadja Higl (SRB).

Australian Marieke Guehrer, who collected US$100,000 in prize money for winning last year's World Cup overall, will also be in action. She will focus again on her pet event - the 50m butterfly; the distance over which she is World Champion. She will face the Swedish pair of Therese Alshammar (second overall in last year's World Cup) and Sarah Sjostrom (100m butterfly World Champion), as well as three-time Olympian Mandy Loots (RSA). Guehrer's team-mates, including Sophie Edington (100m backstroke) and Ashley Delaney (100m and 200m backstroke).

Further big names to watch this weekend include the Dutch swimmers Inge Dekker, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Hinkelien Schreuder, Germany’s Daniela Samulski, Stefan Nystrand (SWE), Georgina Bardach (ARG), and representing the home team of South Africa, William Diering, Lyndon Ferns, Kathryn Meaklim and the young rising star Jessica Liss.

After the Africa stage, the Cup moves to Europe, where three consecutive meets in Moscow (RUS) on November 6-7, Stockholm (SWE) on November 10-11 and Berlin (GER) on November 14 – 15 will unfold, before the series wraps-up in Singapore on November 21-22, 2009.

In these upcoming legs, the star parade will only increase. The Swedish and German stops will be highlighted by the participation of the great Micheal Phelps (USA); while the Australian front will feature the much-anticipated return of butterflier Nick D’Arcy, along with Leisel Jones, Libby Trickett and Felicity Galvez. Germany’s Paul Biedermann is confirmed for the European legs, as is Britta Steffen and Brazil’s Felipe Franca Silva.

In Singapore, the Australians will be in full force. An additional 10 swimmers will join the group there - for the most valuable meet of series where swimmers gain double-points. Additions will include Jessicah Schipper (quadruple World medallist in Rome), fellow short-course world record holder Emily Seebohm, Christian Sprenger and Adam Pine. Aaron Peirsol (USA), one of the finest swimmers in the world, also intends to compete in Singapore, and perhaps in Europe. The presence of such formidable champions guarantees the competitive level of the 2009 World Cup will be considerably high.