From high-profile Olympic and World champions to emerging junior talents, the European Short Course Championships will unite established, as well as rising, swimming stars.
Here are five storylines to look out for ahead of the action in Otopeni, which runs from 5-10 December in Romania.
MEN’S 200m FREESTYLE
The eight-length event is set to be one of the highlights of the meet.
David Popovici will have the full force of the home crowd behind him with the Romanian the reigning European long-course champion and 2022 world gold medallist. The 19-year-old won the title at Kazan 2021 and claimed silver at last year’s World Short-Course Championships.
He faces fearsome opposition from British duo Tom Dean and Matt Richards, the Olympic and World long-course champions respectively who are joined by James Guy with whom they won the 4x200m relay at the Tokyo Games.
Danys Rapsys seeks his third title in the event after victories in 2017 and 2019 while French hopes rest with six-time world (50m) medallist Maxime Grousset – winner of five golds and a silver at the French Short Course Championships – and Roman Fuchs.
18 YEARS AND COUNTING FOR ZSUZSANNA JAKABOS
The Hungarian paid her first visit to a senior international podium at the 2005 European Short Course Championships in Trieste, Italy.
Then aged 16, Jakabos won bronze in the 400m individual medley and in the subsequent 18 years, she has won a further 10 European short course medals including golds in the 200m butterfly and 400IM at Eindhoven 2010.
Now 34, Jakabos will compete in the 400IM and 200 fly in Otopeni, four years after silver and bronze in Glasgow.
ARNO KAMMINGA AND NICOLO MARTINENGHI MEET AGAIN
Breaststroke duo Arno Kamminga and Nicolo Martinenghi have shared Olympic, World and European podiums.
Kamminga, of the Netherlands, won 100m breaststroke silver at the Tokyo Olympics; one place ahead of Martinenghi who then claimed the world title the following year in Budapest with Kamminga second.
The pair could not be separated in the 100m breaststroke at the 2023 World Championships when they shared an historic three-way tie for silver with USA’s Nic Fink, behind winner Qin Haiyang of China, in Fukuoka.
Kamminga told European Aquatics last month: “I have a lot of respect for my competitors because they do a lot of respect for my competitors because they do a lot of things really good because otherwise they wouldn’t be at this level.
“So, with Nicolo, it’s why I like him so much because I see him doing so many good things.
“He’s also a really great guy and obviously when we stand on the blocks it’s game on and there’s maybe no friendship at all but the moment we touch it changes that.”
The pair will meet over 100m two years after Martinenghi won gold and Kamminga the bronze as well as the 200m with the Italian also contesting the 50m.
THE WIFFEN TWINS
Irish twins Daniel and Nathan Wiffen are competing on a senior international team together for the first time with the latter making his debut.
It will be Daniel’s second European Short Course Championships following his bow at Glasgow 2019 since when he has gone on to rewrite the Irish and European record books.
After winning silver in the 1500m freestyle at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, he lowered Gregorio Paltrinieri’s European 800m freestyle record in the short-course pool to 7:25.96.
Daniel then added the long-course mark in 7:39.19 en-route to fourth at the World Championships in Fukuoka.
In an interview with European Aquatics, Daniel also stated he has his sights on Grant Hackett’s world record of 7:23.42 which has stood since 2008.
The twins will compete in the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle.
WOMEN’S 100M BREASTSTROKE
This is set to be a fiercely-contested event with women who will expect to be challenging in the long-course pool at Paris 2024.
Benedetta Pilato won her first senior medals in 2019 aged 14, claiming 50m breaststroke at the World Championships in Gwangju before going on to take gold at Glasgow 2019 in December of that year as well as 4x50m medley relay silver.
The Italian won 50m bronze at the 2023 worlds while not entering the 100m and arrives in Otopeni after qualifying for the 2024 Olympics at the Italian Winter Championships.
She’ll be joined in the four-length event by teammate Martina Carraro, who won gold in the 100m breaststroke four years ago and silver behind Pilato in the 50 as well as bronze in the 200.
Tes Schouten won 100 silver and 200 bronze at the 2022 World Short Course Championships in Melbourne, Australia, before claiming bronze in the longer race in Fukuoka in July.
Eneli Jefimova won silver in the 100m breaststroke at Kazan 2021 aged 14 and this year left the World Juniors with a medal of each colour including 50m gold.
The 2017 European Short Course Championships represented a breakthrough for Sophie Hansson with 4×50 medley relay gold and bronze in the 50m breaststroke.
Four years later, the Swede won 100m silver among a five-medal haul at the 2021 World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi.
You will be able to follow all of the latest news and videos from Otopeni 2023 via the European Aquatics website and social media channels, with LIVE STREAMS available via All Aquatics.