Melbourne 2022: Europe’s best head down under

(Left to right) Popovici, Peaty and Meilutyte – Images courtesy of Simone Castrovillai / LEN.

A host of Europe’s best swimmers – including David Popovici, Adam Peaty and Ruta Meilutyte – will dive into the Australian waters this week for the FINA World Swimming (25m) Championships, which run from 13-18 Dec, in Melbourne.

Romanian teenager Popovici will look to round-off his stunning breakout year by adding a maiden World short course title to his 100m and 200m freestyle World and European long course golds – won at both junior and senior levels during 2022.

He also broke the 100m freestyle world record at Roma 2022.

Peaty will make his highly anticipated return to the sport after missing much of the year with a broken foot and subsequent rehabilitation.

Joining the Olympic champion in the British team is sprint-star Ben Proud, who after winning his maiden 50m freestyle FINA World short course gold at Abu Dhabi 2021 has gone on to claim the World long course, Commonwealth and European titles in the event.

Meilutyte set a new European record – and was just 0.04 seconds short of the 50m breaststroke world record – at the Berlin World Cup six weeks ago and the Lithuanian will target that, as well as success over the 100m distance.

She is likely to be pushed by fellow European champion and arch-rival Benedetta Pilato in both events.

The teenager is part of a strong Italian team, which also features regular major medal winners Nicolo Martinenghi, Thomas Ceccon, Gregorio Paltrinieri and Simona Quadarella.

London 2012 champion Florent Manaudou continues his long-term bid to return to the Olympic podium at his home Games – Paris 2024 – and is joined in the French squad by short-course specialist Beryl Gastaldello.

Leon Marchand and Marie Wattel opted against competing in Australia and will continue their build-up to the 2023 season at their respective domestic training bases.

For a full run down of the event programme and start lists, head to FINA’s Melbourne 2022 home page and follow updates on European successes via LEN’s social media channels!

All times stated are AEDT – local in Melbourne, Australia.