Here are five things to know about this year’s World Cup season for the most endurance-minded athletes in the aquatic world. 

Open Water Racing Returns to the Red Sea

Image Source: Fans show their support for Mohamed Zanaty of Egypt during the World Aquatics Championships (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It’s been 21 years since Egypt hosted an open water swimming event – that being the 2002 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Sharm El Sheikh – this year’s Open Water Swimming World Cup begins across the Gulf of Suez at the Somabay resort.

Not only will this kick off the sport’s international season, but it will also have a special vibe as its part of the Egypt Aquatics Festival. Once the open water swimmers have finished competing in the Red Sea, a beach water polo tournament that qualifies nations to the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali this August will take place alongside the third stop of the Artistic Swimming World Cup 2023 season. 

New Season-Leader Awards on the Line

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

With the turn of the calendar to 2023, the change from FINA to World Aquatics also extends to tweaks, changes and innovations in our sports. This will be immediately apparent once the open water racing gets underway in May on the World Cup with two new annual awards on the line: the World Cup Sprint Leader and the World Cup Junior Leader make their debut this year alongside the longstanding World Cup Leader award. 

The two new awards look to play a significant role in animating the racing, and winning one can not only serve as a stepping stone for greater glories for the athlete but will soon also be considered an important victory in itself. 

Athletes will earn sprint points for passing through specific, pre-determined points within the individual 10km events. After each World Cup, the current highest cumulative sprint point-scoring athlete will carry this distinction into the following stop.

The World Cup Junior Leader will be awarded to the overall best-ranked young male and female athlete (aged 19 and under, as of 31 December 2022) in the 10km events. The current overall leader of the junior ranking will carry the title to the following stop. 

Ka-Ching! Open Water Swimmers Can Cash In

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

Each World Cup pays out USD 30,000 for the individual 10km events, equally distributed between men and women. Pair this with the USD 10,000 World Aquatics puts up for the Mixed Team Relay prize money at each event stop for the first time in 2023 makes for solid earnings potential for the sport’s top-tier athletes. 

This comes in addition to the payday waiting at the top-10 ranked open water swimmers at the end of the World Cup season that sees both the men’s and women’s fields paid out an additional USD 175,000. The overall winners earn USD 50,000, the runners-up USD 35,000, and the third-place season-ranked swimmer pockets USD 25,000. The descending overall season monetary awards payout to tenth place. 

With the new World Cup Sprint Leader and World Cup Junior Leader distinctions, there’s also more prize money on the line. Along with the accolades and bragging rights, the men’s and women’s World Cup Sprint Leaders will be awarded USD 10,000. The overall individual men’s and women’s annual World Cup Junior Leaders will earn USD 5,000.

For the accountants out there: In case of a tie in any of the final overall rankings, tied positions will receive the prize money assigned for the rank position(s).  

The 4x1500 Mixed Relay Consolidates its Place on the World Cup

Image Source: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Now a World Aquatics Championship event that brings an additional team event, tactics (and speed!) to the open water swimming world, the 4x1500m is a staple on the World Cup as all five stops of the 2023 tour feature the Mixed Relay.

No longer a novelty or concept, the next step for the Mixed Relay is seeing this event at an upcoming Olympic Summer Games. 

Organisers Can Host a Mass Participation Open Water Swimming Event Alongside the World Cup

Image Source: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Open water racing is for the people! As a complementary part of the event programme, World Cup organisers can now also hold a mass participation event alongside one or more of the World Cup races.

These can take place on the same day as the World Cup, but they need not worry about getting lapped by the likes of Germany’s Florian Wellbrock and Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha and company as the start mass participation start does not begin at the same time as the elite competition is taking place.