BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- With about two months to go to the kick-off of the brand new FINA "Champions Swim Series," many swimming stars have already confirmed their participation in the three-leg competition, taking place on April 27-28 in Guangzhou, May 11-12 in Budapest (Hungary) and May 31-June 1 in Indianapolis (United States), according to world swimming governing body FINA.
After the first set of invitations was sent, several Olympic and world championships medalists expressed their interest in taking part in the Series, which includes almost three million US dollars in prize money, plus over 800,000 US dollars in appearance fees and all travel and accommodation expenses covered. All the Series meets will serve as qualifying events for both the FINA World Championships Gwangju 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Among the men, reigning Olympic 50m champion Anthony Ervin, from the United States, will swim his signature event, while Belgium's Pieter Timmers, silver medallist in Rio 2016, will be the man to beat in the 100m free.
Italy's Gabriele Detti, Russians Kliment Kolesnikov and Vladimir Morozov, American Ryan Murphy and China's Xu Jiayu will compete in the backstroke races; Brazilians Joao Gomes Junior and Felipe Lima will be strong competitors in the 50m breast; 2016 Olympic champion Dmitry Balandin of Kazakhstan and 2017 world gold medallist Anton Chupkov of Russia will have an epic fight in the 200m breast; the best three swimmers at the 2017 worlds in Budapest - Ben Proud of Britain, Nicholas Santos of Brazil and Andriy Govorov of Ukraine - will meet again in the 50m fly, while Chad Le Clos of South Africa will be the protagonist in the 100m fly; Hungarian stars Laszlo Cseh and Kristof Milak are serious contenders in the 200m fly; and Chinese ace Wang Shun will highlight the 200m individual medley.
In the women's field, Denmark's Olympic champion Pernille Blume, Sweden's world champion Sarah Sjostrom and Dutch Ranomi Kromowidjojo will certainly set the tone in the 50m free, while Canada's Penny Oleksiak and Aussie Cate Campbell will be forces to be reckoned with in the 100m free. Italian star Federica Pellegrini will be in action in the 200m free and China's Li Bingjie will swim for gold in the 400m free.