The final stop of the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup 2023 series will get underway this weekend in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, the host of many World Aquatics events since its maiden voyage in 2017 at the World Aquatics Championships.

The Duna Arena will play host to its fourth World Cup, following up its appearances on the 2018, 2019, and 2021 tours.

Triple crowns and World Cup titles will be on the line this coming weekend with many of the best athletes having also appeared in the stops in Berlin and Athens the last two weekends. There has been a lot of fast swimming underway this month with 21 different World Cup records being set in 16 events.

A world record has yet to be set during this World Cup but there have been a few times this tour where the winning time was quicker than the one at the World Championships in July. With one final weekend left in Budapest, a facility that has had numerous world records set in its short history, could a world record fall?

Here are some of the top races to watch at this weekend’s World Cup in Budapest.

Women’s 100m Backstroke

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Is Kaylee McKeown’s World Record of 57.45 under threat? In Athens last week, McKeown swam 57.63, which is faster than anyone in history except for Regan Smith. McKeown has been under 58 eight times this year as just three women in history have ever broken the barrier. McKeown is another swimmer that has won all six backstroke races this circuit and is the clear favorite to win three more this week in Budapest, the site of where she made her first Worlds final in 2017 and won her first World title in 2022.

Does McKeown have enough left in her to break her own world record? She is still early in her Olympic preparation, but if she were to go faster than 57.4 in Budapest, it would certainly send a message to the rest of the world that there is a lot of work to be done to take her down.

McKeown will also take aim at the 50m world record, getting within 0.02 of Liu Xiang’s 26.98 from 2018.

Men's 400m Freestyle

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Australia's Sam Short will be making his Swimming World Cup debut this weekend in Budapest as he emerged from 2023 as one of the best distance swimmers in the world, winning the 400m freestyle World title, along with silver in the 800m and bronze in the 1500m. Short got closer than anyone has in 11 years to Paul Biedermann's 3:40.07 world record in the 400m, winning the World title in Fukuoka at 3:40.68. Now having just turned 20 a couple of weeks ago, Short will be making his debut on the international stage this season where he will do battle with Olympic bronze medallist Kieran Smith and Lithuania's Danas Rapsys.

Although Short has been much quicker than both of them in their careers, we don't know what kind of racing shape Short is in, although he has been in Budapest for over a week in preparation for this World Cup. Short is one of the fan favourites for next year's Paris Olympics in three events, as he will be looking to carry on Australia's distance freestyle tradition next summer. Perhaps he is using this stop in Budapest as a test run for next summer's Olympics, which will be his first if he is to qualify - acclimating to the European time zone whilst preparing for a competition. If Short is on this weekend, he will challenge for the World Cup Record, which is a 3:43.91 set by Rapsys in 2019.

Men’s 100m Breaststroke

Image Source: Jo Kleindl/World Aquatics

We’ve already seen Qin Haiyang rip his way through the best breaststrokers in the world, winning six of the six finals thus far across the three distances. He matched his gold medal-winning time from Fukuoka in Berlin at 57.69. The World Record of 56.88 by Adam Peaty is still a bit out of reach, but Qin has been on fire since April of this year, holding eight of the ten fastest times in the world this year.

It seems every time Qin dives in, he is under 58.5, which will come in handy against the likes of World Short Course champion Nic Fink, Olympic silver medalist Arno Kamminga and last year’s World champ Nicolo Martinenghi, who will be ready to pounce if Qin falters. The pressure is on Qin to win the triple crown, where a big pay day is at stake. He has been able to live up to the pressure in 2023, so will he be able to close out this World Cup circuit perfect?

Women’s 100m Butterfly

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

China’s Zhang Yufei has won six butterfly finals at the World Cup, most recently swimming a 56.06 in the 100m in Athens, which was faster than her gold medal-winning time at the World Championships in July. Zhang will be racing against World Record-holder Sarah Sjostrom and World Junior champion Lana Pudar as she is going for triple crowns in both the 100m and 200m butterfly.

Zhang has had similar domination this year in the 100m butterfly to teammate Qin in the 100m breaststroke as she holds six of the top ten performances in the world this year. Zhang will take aim at, not only her own Asian record of 55.62 from 2020 but Sjostrom’s world record of 55.48 from 2016.

Sjostrom will not go down without a fight either, swimming 56.92 in Athens, but she will need to put together an incredible race to take down Zhang at this point.

Men’s 100m Backstroke

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

World record holder Thomas Ceccon is returning to the facility where he set the global mark in 2022 as he is also going for a triple crown in the 100m backstroke, swimming as fast as 52.27 in Berlin, matching the time he did to win silver at Worlds in 2023. Ceccon will be racing against last year’s European silver medallist Apostolos Christou of Greece, and rising star Oliver Morgan of Great Britain.

Ceccon is the heavy fan favourite and is one of only two swimmers faster than 53 seconds this year in the field, an achievement he has done five times in 2023, but he hasn’t been under 52 since last year. Ceccon is one of the top sprinters in the world and will be looking to put up a good time this weekend to close out his campaign at the World Cup in Europe.

Women’s 100m Freestyle

Image Source: Jo Kleindl/World Aquatics

Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China rocketed to number one in the world in Berlin two weeks ago when she swam a 52.02 in the 100m freestyle, swimming faster than Mollie O’Callaghan’s winning time from the World Championships. Haughey is not far off of Sjostrom’s world record of 51.71 that was set in Budapest six years ago, and Sjostrom will be in the race this weekend to try to end Haughey’s bid for a triple crown.

Haughey has set World Cup records in both the 100m and 200m freestyle this season, and does she have enough in her to get under 52 seconds in the 100m? Only two women in history have broken that barrier in the 100m freestyle as she will do battle this weekend with Sjostrom and Worlds bronze medallist Marrit Steeenbergen.

Previous World champions Cate and Bronte Campbell will also be in the event in Budapest as all eyes will be on Haughey and how fast she can go in the blue ribbon event.