This week's World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup event will be one of the last times many swimmers will see each other before the Olympic Games in Paris in August. With about 11 weeks until the open water races in Paris, this will be a key test for these athletes hoping to win medals in the French capital.

With water and air conditions changing at each venue, race practice is the best practice in perfecting the craft of the 10km. Many of the medal favourites for Paris this summer will be in attendance in the Italian waters of Golfo Aranci.

The Italians have become one of the top nations thanks in part to the talented training group amassed by coach Fabrizio Antonelli that includes 2022 World champion Gregorio Paltrinieri as well as the winners at the last Open Water World Cup stop in Egypt in March - Leonie Beck and Domenico Acerenza.

Antonelli’s group does a lot of swims at Ostia Beach, west of the capital city of Rome, which is about an hour-long flight away from Golfo Aranci, so the conditions could play in favour of the Italian-based group. Beck, who was the 2023 World champion while representing her home nation of Germany, swims better in these conditions, and will look to take on the 2024 World Champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands on Friday morning.

Image Source: Andrea Masini/Deep Blue Media/World Aquatics

Van Rouwendaal won the gold medal in Doha in February in both the 5km and 10km races, showcasing her strengths as one of the best open water swimmers of all-time. The 30-year-old will be one of the co-favorites this weekend alongside Beck, who will turn 27 on Monday.

Portugal’s Angelica Andre, who won bronze in Doha in February, should also factor into the top three this weekend, along with Hungary’s Bettina Fabian, who was out-touched by Beck in March in the World Cup in Egypt.

Reigning Olympic champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil cannot be counted out in any circumstances in the 10km.

Image Source: Andrea Masini/Deep Blue Media/World Aquatics

The men’s race will get underway Friday morning as well with this year’s World champion Kristof Rasovszky taking on the Italian duo of Acerenza and Paltrinieri as well as this year’s 5km World champ Logan Fontaine of France.

With the race waters expected to be on the colder side, that should play in favour of the likes of Paltrinieri, Acerenza, and Rasovszky, who have the mix of speed and endurance that have made them so formidable on the international stage. Rasovszky and Paltrinieri have seen international success in the pool in the 800m and 1500m, as well as in the marathon events of the 5km and 10km. Those two are the heavy favorites tomorrow in Golfo Aranci, but Acerenza has won the last two World Cup stops in the 10km as he has emerged as a medal spoiler for Paris in 11 weeks.

Image Source: Domenico Acerenza in Doha at the 2024 Worlds (Aniko Kovacs/World Aquatics)

Acerenza took down Paltrinieri in March by two seconds and won the last stop of 2023 by emerging from the last turn buoy with the lead after staying in the lead pack the entire race.

If an upset is to occur, look for the likes of France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier, who won the silver in Doha and was fourth in Soma Bay. Olivier, age 27, has three World Championships medals in the 10km, and won bronze back in Rio 2016. With a home Olympics approaching, he will look to gather some momentum into that race in 11 weeks' time.

Great Britain’s Hector Pardoe, who shocked the field by winning bronze in Doha, will also be in the race.

Image Source: Andrea Masini/Deep Blue Media/World Aquatics

The women’s 10km race will get underway at 9:15 a.m. local time with the men’s race following at 11:45 a.m. The mixed 4x1500m relay will be swum at 9:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, May 25. To find the best way to watch live and on demand in your area, check out the World Aquatics Where to Watch Guide.