Budapest - The world swimming championships will usher in a
new era following the retirement of American great Michael Phelps when eight
days of racing commence at Budapest's Duna Arena on Sunday.
This will be the first global meeting since 1998 without
either Phelps, holder of 23 Olympic gold medals and 26 world titles, or
compatriot and six-time Olympic gold medallist Ryan Lochte who is ineligible to
compete after a 10-month ban.
Although Phelps missed the 2013 and 2015 championships, it
is his farewell after his final competitive race at the Rio Olympics which
Phelps was the last to leave pool deck as he waved an
emotional goodbye to a boisterous crowd after helping the US to gold in the
men's 4x100 metres medley relay.
Nearly one year on, his departure has left a void as the
sport searches for the next global star to take over the 32-year-old's mantle.
A mixed medley relay, along with a men's 800m and women's
1500m freestyle races were last month added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the
International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a radical shake-up of the Games
However, if those changes were implemented to ensure gender
parity across the sport, it is women's elite swimmers who are likely to receive
top billing in Budapest.
Following local favourite Katinka Hosszu's trio of Olympic
titles at last summer's Olympics, an expectant nation will now be anticipating
more bounty in the pool where she has been training for multiple individual
Following her Rio exploits, the self-billed 'Iron Lady' has
entered six individual events across medley, backstroke, freestyle and
The 28-year-old is also bidding for a hat-trick of world titles in
both the 200m and 400m individual medley.
Katie Ledecky of the United States is set to go one better.
Unbeaten at world championships, the American's freestyle
brilliance is set to continue in the Hungarian capital as she aims for a
hat-trick of individual world titles in the 400m, 800m and 1500m.
Like Hosszu, she is entered into six events - and unless she
scratches some races, the 20-year-old collegiate will undertake her most active
schedule yet in a major meet.
Along with Hosszu and Ledecky, Swedish sprint star Sarah
Sjostrom, 23, will be vying to win her first freestyle world title, having come
to the fore with Olympic gold in the 100m butterfly, her signature event.
Top male swimmers to look out for in Budapest include
Britain's Olympic breaststroke champion Adam Peaty and South African Chad le
Clos, who is aiming to put a disappointing Rio Games behind him after the
defending champion finished outside of the medals in the 200m Olympic butterfly
Away from the pool, Julio Maglione will be seeking
re-election at the helm of the sport's international body, Fina, when a
presidency vote is held on Saturday.
Maglione, 81, is considered favourite for a fourth term when
he stands against Italy's Paolo Barelli, the European Swimming Federation