World Aquatics earlier this month unveiled its “Elite 11” competing across all the tour stops of the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup 2023 circuit this fall which will get underway October 6 - 8 in Berlin and will continue October 13 - 15 in Athens, before its finish from October 20 - 22 in Budapest.

Dylan Carter - Trinidad & Tobago

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Carter won last year’s overall title when he broke a tie with USA’s Nic Fink on the final day of the Swimming World Cup in Indianapolis by virtue of his 50m butterfly scoring more points than Fink’s 200m breaststroke. Carter won three “triple crowns” across three 50s in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly last year as he mastered the splash and dash in 2022.

Short course meters is his forte due to his strength coming off the wall and Carter carries speed off the push better than almost anybody in the world. But with this season being held in long course for Olympic preparation purposes, the challenge is going to be greater for Carter, who made two semi-finals in the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly at the Worlds in Fukuoka. But Carter is ready for the challenge ahead as he isn’t thinking much about trying to defend his overall title this year. 

Nic Fink - United States

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Fink also won three triple crowns last year at the World Cup in the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke events and missed out on the overall World Cup title by just a few hundredths of a second. Fink ultimately took home a big payday by finishing second in the overall standings as he also finished last season with individual gold at the World Short Course Championships in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

Now 30, Fink is in the twilight of his career and swimming better than ever. This year, the breaststroke field is more stacked than it has ever been, but Fink is at the top of his game at the moment and will certainly heed the challenge thrown at him. Fink most recently won two silvers in the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the World Championships in Fukuoka and has recently moved training bases to Dallas with coach Greg Rhodenbaugh as he prepares for what would be his second Olympics in 2024. 

Qin Haiyang - China

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

Qin is coming off the best summer of his career, where he became the first man to win three World titles in the same stroke in the same year, taking out the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke World titles in July. Qin set a world record in the 200m and became the second-fastest performer all-time in the 100m in Japan and will look to continue that momentum at the Swimming World Cup.

Last year at the World Short Course Championships, Qin was fourth twice in the 50m and 100m breast and added a bronze in the 200m. His strengths clearly lie in long course, and Qin turned a lot of heads with his performances in Fukuoka, as he will be attracting a lot of eyes when he lines up behind the blocks at the World Cup.

He’s had a busy last few months since racing at the World Championships, winning five gold medals at the World University Games in Chengdu (CHN) just a few days after Fukuoka, and will also be back racing in China for the Asian Games in Hangzhou this month. Qin has proven in 2023 that he is the new man to beat in breaststroke, and will certainly test himself this World Cup circuit against stout competition.

Adam Peaty - Great Britain

Image Source: Morgan Hancock/World Aquatics

The third breaststroker on this list did not swim at the recent World Championships in Fukuoka due to mental health reasons, but Peaty, age 28, was in Japan for sponsorship obligations to watch the last day of swimming. Peaty admitted watching the racing at Worlds made him “excited and hungry for the season ahead,” as he has missed the last two World Championships since winning Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Before Peaty shoots for his third straight Olympic gold medal in the 100m breaststroke, which would make him the fifth swimmer to achieve such a feat in a single event, he will take on last year’s triple crown winner Fink and reigning long course World champ Qin.

Peaty will have his hands full, but he has been the standard for so long that he has risen to the occasion before. Last year at the World Short Course Championships, he beat Qin for the 100m bronze medal and if he is close to that form again on the World Cup stage, he will certainly draw a lot of attention when he takes on the best in the world in Europe.

Even though he has been off form since the Tokyo Olympics, Peaty will still be a main attraction for the European fans and if he can beat Qin and Fink in any of the three cities, it will be a good sign for the Brit ahead of 2024.

Chad le Clos - South Africa

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Le Clos has noted that the Berlin stop of last year’s Swimming World Cup series was the birth of “Chad le Clos 2.0” as he won the “triple crown” in the 100m butterfly, swimming his fastest short course time in the event in two years in the German capital last year.

Le Clos has consistently been one of the top butterfly swimmers in the world, winning the 100m and 200m butterfly gold medals at last year’s World Short Course Championships. However, le Clos was absent from the World Aquatics Championships in July due to missing a big chunk of training due to illness.

Le Clos, who lives and trains in Germany, will be racing in Berlin, Athens, and Budapest as he sets sights on what would be his fourth Olympics in Paris next year. At age 31, le Clos is still one of the top butterfly swimmers in the world, and he will be out to prove that again this year in 2023.

Le Clos has been inconsistent the last few years but will get an opportunity to race some of the best in the world as he looks to gather momentum for next February’s World Championships in Doha.