Casas and Flickinger join eight other elite athletes to watch throughout the FINA Swimming World Cup 2022 season.
The FINA Swimming World Cup is back with a collection of world record holders, FINA World Champions and Olympic gold medalists convening in three cities across three weeks as they begin their preparations for the 2023 World Championships and 2024 Olympic Games.
Here are ten top athletes to watch do their thing in the 25m pool at the FINA Swimming World Cup stops in Berlin (GER), Toronto (CAN), and Indianapolis (USA) in the coming weeks.
Siobhan Haughey - Hong Kong, China
Haughey hasn’t done much racing yet in 2022 but she did have a career year in 2021. She won two silver medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 100m and 200m freestyle events and won two more gold medals in those events at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi to conclude the year. The short course racing format fits Haughey as the then-24-year-old set her first world record in the 200m in Abu Dhabi.
Haughey comes into this Swimming World Cup season with a fresh start as she has a chance to prove she is still one of the top freestyle swimmers in the world. Two questions that Haughey may answer during this FINA Swimming World Cup season: can she lower her own world record? And can she add another one in the 100m freestyle as well?
Kylie Masse - Canada
The 26-year-old Canadian has long been one of the most consistent backstrokers in the world over the last six years, winning medals at every major meet since the Rio 2016 Olympics. Last year at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), she won three short-course silvers in all three backstroke distances, and this past summer at the FINA World Championships, she was the gold medalist in the 50 backstroke as well as silver medalist in the 100m.
On the all-time fastest list, Masse is third in the 50m backstroke, sixth in the 100m and has shown no signs of slowing down at this stage of her impressive career. The Toronto stop will be extra special for Masse as the Windsor native has been living and training in Toronto since 2015.
Louise Hansson - Sweden
Hansson has long been a force on the Swedish national team for nearly a full decade. Last year at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), she won seven medals, including gold in the 100m backstroke. This year at the FINA World Championships, she just missed the podium in the 100m butterfly but rebounded to win the European title in August.
At age 25, Hansson can swim any event as she has strengths in sprint butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle, and has been successful in the short course individual medley events. She is ranked fifth all-time in both the 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke and has been known to swim well in-season, so don’t be surprised if she is a big winner during the FINA Swimming World Cup season.
Hali Flickinger – USA
An all-arounder that specializes in freestyle, breastroke, individual medleys and relays for the potent Team USA, the Pennsylvania native first tasted success on the FINA Swimming World Cup as a teenager in 2011. Since then, Flickinger starred on the USA collegiate circuit and played a central role in helping the University of Georgia Bulldogs hoist NCAA team titles in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
The now 27-year-old made her senior international debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, making the final in the 200m butterfly. One year later in Budapest, she earned her first FINA World Championships medal, a 4x200m freestyle relay gold. In recent years, Flickinger has tasted success in individual events on the global stage, including bronze in both the 200 IM and 200m butterfly at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Anastasia Gorbenko - Israel
Gorbenko is one of the most versatile swimmers in the world as the 19-year-old was the short course FINA World champion last year in both the 50m breaststroke and 100m IM, making history for Israel in the process as Israel’s first world champion in swimming.
Her best event may be the 200m IM, where she is the two-time defending European champion in long course meters, and where she was fifth in Budapest at the FINA World Championships earlier this year.
A rising star in the sport, the FINA Swimming World Cup format fits Gorbenko well with her being capable of racing several events similar to the style of Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu in the last decade. Her versatility and consistency could see her become a big winner at this Swimming World Cup stop.
Matthew Sates - South Africa
Last year’s overall World Cup winner returns in 2022 for an encore performance after getting more long course experience this past summer. Don’t be fooled by Sates’ eighth-place finish in the 200 IM in Budapest at the FINA World Championships, his short course prowess saw him set world junior records last year in the 200m and 400m freestyle, and the 200 IM during last year’s FINA Swimming World Cup.
Still only 19, Sates was also 11th in the 400 IM and 12th in the 200m freestyle at the 19th FINA World Championships with a short preparation due to changing training locations in the months prior to competing in Budapest. Sates has the talent to be the overall FINA Swimming World Cup winner again, and he should be one of the top guys to beat at his best.
Thomas Ceccon - Italy
Fresh off a world record in the 100m backstroke at the FINA World Championships in June, Ceccon comes in with eyes on the 48.33 world record in the 25m-pool held by USA’s Coleman Stewart.
Currently only ranked 47th all-time in the short course 100m backstroke, Ceccon should have room to improve based on his long course success. The former world junior swimming champion also has strengths in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. In fact, based on the all-time rankings, Ceccon’s highest ranking is 18th in the 50m butterfly and 20th in the 100m IM, and is also 30th in the 200m IM.
Already at age 21, the Italian has a good history in the 100m IM, as he won the bronze medal in the event at last year’s short-course world championships in Abu Dhabi. If he is in the fine form he showed this summer, Ceccon could be in for a big medal haul at the three FINA Swimming World Cup stops –and even perhaps will put the pool on world record watch.
Nic Fink - United States
Fink seems to get better and better with age, and at 29, he is swimming faster than ever. He is in the top 15 all-time in all three breaststroke races in short course meters, ranking as high as third in the 100m breaststroke, ironically the one breaststroke race he did not win at last year’s FINA World Swimming Championships (25m). But Fink did not leave the short-course world empty-handed as he won both the 50m and 200m in Abu Dhabi and is coming off a long-course season where he was the FINA World Champ in the 50m and bronze medalist in the 100m.
Look for Fink to be the talisman in these three breaststroke events. This, matched with his ability to top placing and points in the IMs could put him in contention for the overall FINA Swimming World Cup title. And who knows, that 50m short-course breaststroke world record might just be within his reach.
Kyle Chalmers - Australia
Fresh off breaking the vaunted 100m freestyle world record during last season’s FINA Swimming World Cup – a time that had stood for nearly 13 years – Chalmers comes into the FINA Swimming World Cup 2022 season ready for more after shying away from his best event at the FINA World Championships this year. Chalmers did swim the 100m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games where he swam the second-fastest time in the world for 2022 in the long course pool.
Now refreshed and ready to tackle a new season, the 24-year-old looks hungry to prove himself this season. Having struggled with injuries in the last few years, what can a fully healthy Chalmers do in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events?
Shaine Casas – USA
Following the maxim that a champion is someone that does not give up after defeat defines the whirlwind of performance peaks and valleys that Casas experienced in 2021. Following a third and sixth at the 2021 US Olympic Trials where only the top-two athletes punched their tickets to Tokyo, the Texas native capped the year with a stunning six days in Abu Dhabi in December. At the FINA World Swimming Championships 2021, Casas picked up six medals, including two golds in the 100m backstroke and the 4x50m Medley Relay.
A former Texas A&M student-athlete, Casas earned three NCAA titles before moving to Austin, Texas to train with Eddie Reese. At the 2022 USA Trials, Casas set a 200m backstroke personal best to earn his way onto the American contingent competing at the 19th FINA World Championships. Casas dropped another personal record in the 200m backstroke final in Budapest to earn a bronze medal, his first global podium in the long course pool.
Outside the pool, Casas cites basketball as a passion. The 22-year-old revers hoops legend Michael Jordan and even watched the basketball documentary The Last Dance that chronicles Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls eight times!
“Basketball and swimming both require a lot of skill and practice,” Casas said. “You can't just pick it up. You can be talented but to get to the top level, you need years and years and years of work.”
Stay tuned to find out about the other stars that will join this stellar swimming crew at each of the FINA Swimming World Cup stops!