Swimming

Drama in store at world swim meet

An Iron Lady seeks to exert her authority, an ill-tempered rivalry looks set to continue, while several upstarts will try to claim the throne which has been vacant after a king's departure.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the drama expected when the swimming programme of the World Aquatics Championships starts in Budapest on Sunday.

Hungarian Olympic champion and multiple world-record holder Katinka Hosszu, nicknamed the "Iron Lady", can't wait for it to start.

"It is always a special feeling to be on the blocks before a home crowd," the 28-year-old told local website Index.hu in the Duna Arena, the gleaming new meet venue, where she has been training for months.

"I will know each and every little tile here in the ground, they will greet me, and I will them. This is the advantage of the home track."

After last year's Rio Olympics, in which Hosszu won three gold medals and a silver, she said Budapest was "the obvious next stop to get motivated for".

Hosszu will compete in six events - the 200m and 400m individual medleys, 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly - just as at the last world meet in Kazan, Russia.

Few would bet against her at least matching the two individual medley golds she won in Kazan, although Hosszu admitted to hometown pressure.

"This pool is so beautiful, that it also puts a little pressure on us Hungarians, now we all have to swim fast for sure," she said.

In the men's competition, Australia's Mack Horton and China's Sun Yang will resume their hostilities.

Horton ended Sun's four-year domination of the 400m freestyle event in spectacular style at last year's Rio Olympics after branding Sun a "drug cheat" in the build-up.

SPARKS FLY

Sparks are expected to intensify with both also competing over the 200m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle.

"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."

All eyes will be on Singapore's Joseph Schooling, too, after the 22-year-old's stunning 100m butterfly victory at last year's Rio Olympics, in which he beat his childhood idol and swim king Michael Phelps.

Schooling's schedule starts on Sunday, when he is scheduled to swim in the 50m fly.

He will also compete in the 100m and 200m fly and the 100m freestyle, and has declared his intention to win both the 50m and 100m fly.

With Phelps ending his storied career in Rio, Japan's Kosuke Hagino, 22, has been tipped to take over as the world's top medley swimmer. - WIRE SERVICES

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