Fina opts for Asia focus for second season of Champions Swim Series

Li Zhuhao of China competes in the Men's 100m Butterfly Final during day two of the FINA Champions Swim Series in Guangzhou (by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Fina, the world governing body for aquatic sport, has pursued an Asian focus for the second season of its Champions Swim Series, with China to be the sole host for a 2020 edition reduced in size by one event.

Fina said the second edition of the Champions Swim Series would comprise two legs in January 2020. The first event will take place in Shenzhen on January 14-15, while Beijing will stage the second meet of the Series on January 18-19.

This year’s inaugural edition featured three meets, in Guangzhou, China; Budapest, Hungary; and Indianapolis, USA, running from April 27 to June 1. The release of the 2020 calendar came one day before the rival International Swimming League staged its inaugural meet in Indianapolis at the weekend.

Fina has long been at odds with the organisers of the ISL, with the formation of the Champions Swim Series seen by many as a means of countering the threat posed by the rival competition. Fina’s switch to an Asia-focused strategy comes with the ISL staging no events on the continent in its debut season.

Following the Indianapolis season-opener, the ISL is due to travel to Naples, Italy; Lewisville, Texas; Budapest; College Park, Maryland; and London, England before concluding in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 20-21.

In a statement announcing the 2020 Champions Swim Series, Fina confirmed that the second season would remain broadly in line with the makeup of the first. Following what it described as “very positive feedback” from athletes and coaches, the programme of the 2020 Series will include 28 individual events and two relays over two days of competition. Maintaining the 2019 formula, only finals will be held, with four athletes per race. The competition will be staged in a 50m pool.

The allocation of prize money will continue distributing $10,000 (€9,114) for the winner of each race, with $8,000 for second, $6,000 for the third-ranked swimmer and $5,000 to the fourth finisher in the final. Prize money will also be available for relay events.

Fina added in a statement: “The main goals of this new international gathering are to give high-level swimmers increased attention and additional occasions to compete, thus generating stronger international TV, digital and media interest, and creating another world-class platform for swimming on a yearly basis.”