Hosszu's in a class of her own
Hosszu can't get tired of winning despite World Cup success
There are still 34 events to go over two legs of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup, but Hungary's Katinka Hosszu has already claimed victory in the women's field.
Aptly nicknamed the "Iron Lady", the 27-year-old Hungarian became the first swimmer to surpass the 200-gold mark in the World Cup series in Singapore on Friday, and won nine golds and two silvers in the two-day meet, which ended yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
After the Singapore stop - the seventh in the series - Hosszu has 921 points, while Denmark Ottesen (354) and Jamaica's Alia Atkinson (343) are second and third respectively.
"I wouldn't be able to lose to anyone at this point even if I don't swim in the next two legs," said the triple Olympic champion, who has won the overall World Cup title since 2012.
"It definitely feels very good that I don't have to keep counting the points; I know I have won the overall title already."
Hosszu (above and inset), however, will not be resting on her laurels in the next two legs in Hong Kong and Japan.
She is looking to do well in those two stops to win the three-city cluster, and claim a US$50,000 ($69,700) cash prize.
"I don't think you'd ever get tired of winning and getting onto the podium," she said with a smile.
"But it doesn't feel any different for me, even now that I am an Olympic champion.
"I am just as competitive and it's just as hard to train and compete."
The World Cup series has served as a good training ground for Hosszu, who is aiming to make another big splash at the short-course world championships in Canada in December.
She said: "I won't be taking it easy in the next two legs. I like to keep my load, and we are not that close to the short-course worlds to back off.
"I even have the Hungarian nationals just a day after the last leg, and I will be swimming all 16 events there."
Meanwhile, Vladimir Morozov took another step closer to winning Russia's first-ever overall World Cup title, with his haul of five golds, a silver and a bronze from the Singapore leg.
The 24-year-old leads the series with 514 points, while South African swimmer Chad le Clos (429) and Germany's Philip Heintz (252) are second and third respectively.
While Morozov acknowledged le Clos' threat of his charge to the overall title, the South African said he has no ambitions to challenge the Russian for it.
Le Clos said: "I am not worried about (the overall title), my goal isn't to catch him.
"I want to race, win some races, get some confidence back after the Olympics, and prepare for the short-course world championships.
"Next year, I will hopefully try to win the World Cup."
Overall World Cup standings
(After Singapore leg)
- MEN (TOP 5)
Vladimir Morozov (Rus) — 514 points
Clad le Clos (Rsa) — 429
Philip Heintz (Ger) — 252
Daiya Seto (Jpn) — 234
Bobby Hurley (USA) — 219
- WOMEN (TOP 5)
Katinka Hosszu (Hun) — 921
Jeanette Ottesen (Den) — 354
Alia Atkinson (Jam) — 343
Yulia Efimova (Rus) — 261
Daryna Zevina (Ukr) — 240
- Remaining two legs:
Tokyo — Oct 25 & 26
Hong Kong — Oct 29 & 30
Nicholle breaks Jos' 16-year-old record
It is one of the two longest-standing short-course national records, both of which belonged to Joscelin Yeo and stood for 16 years.
On Saturday night (Oct 22), Nicholle Toh erased Yeo's women's 200m fly record of 2min 12.45sec, clocking 2:11.26 to finish third at the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The retired swim queen's 200m individual medley mark remains, though.
"I was just hoping to do my personal best, and anything more would have been a bonus," said the 15-year-old Nicholle, who moved to Thailand in August last year to train at the British International School Phuket.
"I look up to Katinka (Hosszu)... I was really glad to be able to race with them. I was definitely nervous because I was swimming against world-class athletes," added the teenager, who trains with former coach See Puay Kheng at the Singapore Sports School whenever she is back for the summer break.
Assistant national coach Gary Tan lauded the former National Training Centre and Ace Swim Club athlete and backed her to claim a place in next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games team.
A BIG RISK
He said: "She was one of the swimmers who went for the majority of the World Cups this year. She went out there, started racing and got better with each leg.
"She took a big risk going out really fast tonight against the big girls and you have to give her credit (for the medal and the national record).
"I think she is going to do very well (towards next year's SEA Games) and, hopefully, alongside the likes of (Quah) Jing Wen and (Quah) Ting Wen, and maybe even Tao Li.
"We have been doing well in our butterfly events, and I hope we can continue the tradition."
Another national-record breaker was Lionel Khoo, who rewrote his second short-course record in two days when he clocked 1:00.26 in the men's 100m breaststroke heats yesterday morning.
His previous national mark was 1:00.66, recorded at the short-course nationals last December.
Khoo also set a new short-course national mark in the men's 200m breaststroke on Friday.
"I have been trying to break the one-minute barrier in this event for about three years, but it has been an elusive one for me," said the 21-year-old, who clocked 1:00.46 in finishing eighth in the final.
"I could have done it tonight, but for a couple of things that went wrong. But that's no excuse... and hopefully I can do it at the (short-course) world championships in December."