Budapest - Australia's
Mack Horton and China's Sun Yang will resume their bad-tempered rivalry
in the pool when the swimming section of the world aquatic
championships starts on Sunday.
Horton ended Sun's four-year domination of the 400m freestyle event
in spectacular style at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics after
branding Sun a 'drug cheat' in the build-up.
Sparks are expected to further fly with both also registered to swim over 200m, 800m and 1 500m freestyle in Budapest.
"Mack is looking forward to it," Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said ahead of Sunday's opening 400m showdown.
"He's in good form. Not only in the 400m but the 1 500m. There will be
great entertainment in both of those races and the swimming world will
be watching with interest," added Anderson with a large dose of
The 800m freestyle will be an especially intriguing battle with
Italy's long-distance expert Gregorio Paltrinieri also in the mix.
Horton and Sun will be battling to be the fastest from Sunday
morning's 400m heats into the evening's final and their grudge 'War in
the Water' rematch will take star billing at Budapest's Duna Arena.
Hungary's 'Iron Lady'
Katinka Hosszu will be out to maintain her grip on the 200m and 400m
individual medley events she has dominated in recent years.
Hosszu has entered six individual events, including the 100m
backstroke - one of three events in which she won Olympic gold last
year - in a punishing schedule, but her priority will be defending her
200m and 400m medley crowns.
Expect fireworks over the longer distance after Hosszu took two
seconds off the world record over 400m when she struck Olympic gold in
Rio last year.
"By (the time of the world championships) I will know each and every little stone of the Duna Arena," said Hosszu.
"This pool is so beautiful, that it also puts a little pressure on us
Hungarians though. It's up to us, now we all have to swim fast."
China, third in the medals table in swimming events in 2015 in Kazan,
will also look to backstroker Fu Yuanhui to defend her 50m title.
A hilarious video went viral of Fu's reaction after discovering she
had won joint bronze over 100m at the Rio Olympics and the 21-year-old
will be hoping for more goofy smiles in Budapest.
The USA, a powerhouse in the pool, will bring a young team - with an
average age of 22 - shorn of stars Michael Phelps, who has retired
again, and Missy Franklin, who sits out Budapest after surgery on both
shoulders last year.
Teenagers Regan Smith, 15, and 17-year-olds Robert Finke and Dakota
Luther will race in the backstroke, freestyle and butterfly
Ledecky, the Stars and Stripes' gold-medal and record-breaking machine,
will be the star attraction in Sunday's 400m freestyle women's heats and
Such is Ledecky's form that she raced her male counterparts -
including 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian - during the American
"She was racing the guys in training camp, and they were doing all
they could not to lose. It was nuts," team-mate Lilly King revealed.
"They were the Olympic freestylers. It was crazy."
Expect Ledecky to challenge her own 400m, 800m and 1 500m freestyle world records in Budapest.
Britain's Adam Peaty looks to be a shoo-in for the 50m and 100m
breaststroke titles - and also wants to lower his own world records in
"I'm half a second quicker if not more than Rio. I want to go and get
my titles again, push down on the world records. It's all achievable,"
Peaty told news.oc.uk.
Peaty is threatening to be the first under the 57 seconds barrier
over 100m with South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh pushing him hard.
There promises to be a battle royal in the women's 100m freestyle
with Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom having narrowly missed Cate Campbell's
world record of 52.06.
Australia's Campbell is sitting out Budapest, but her sister Bronte is the reigning world champion.
However, the names to beat are Simone Manuel of the USA and Canada's Penny Oleksiak, who tied for gold in Rio last year.