After the artistic swimming competition at the Milan Gale Muškatirović centre in the Serbian capital was completed, the venue was reset for seven days of race action, 17-23 June.

It will represent the final opportunity for athletes to record Olympic qualification times, while those who have already secured their places at Paris 2024 will have the chance to take on high-class opponents ahead of the Games in France next month.

Image Source: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Romanian David Popovici was the name on everyone’s lips at the last edition of the European Championships in Rome where he built on two maiden World crowns with maiden senior continental titles and a landmark 100m freestyle world record.

He endured a more challenging 2023, and the now 19-year-old saw his World Record broken and lowered by Pan Zhanle of China in February.

Popovici’s time leading into Belgrade 2024 suggests he is in good form, and fans will be keen to see how he performs in his favoured 100m and 200m freestyle events. 

Image Source: Kristof Malik competes in the Men's 200m Butterfly at the European Aquatics Championships - Rome 2022 at the Stadio del Nuoto (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Another swimmer on something of a comeback mission is Hungarian Olympic champion Kristof Milak who will compete in his first major event since Roma 2022, having opted to skip the last two editions of the World Championships for personal reasons.

It is understood that after some time away from the sport he returned to serious training in February, so while far from what would be traditionally considered ideal preparations, those around the swimmer believe his form and fitness are improving.

He is set to compete in six individual races – 50m, 100m and 200m – in both butterfly and freestyle, while the world record holder is also expected to form part of Hungary’s strong free and medley relay line-ups.

It means Milak is likely to go up against two of the other ‘biggest’ names in the men’s field – Popovici in the freestyle and Noe Ponti of Switzerland in the butterfly events.

Ponti claimed a shock 100m bronze at Tokyo 2020, behind gold medallist Caeleb Dressel (USA) and Milak who was second.

Since then, the Swiss has claimed European silver – at Roma 2022, again behind Milak – but also secured a historic butterfly treble at the 2023 European short course championships.

Image Source: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Ponti has the quickest entry time for the 100m butterfly, which will also feature versatile 200m backstroke world champion Hubert Kos, of Hungary, who claimed 200m individual medley gold at the 2022 Europeans.

In the week the Lithuanian Swimming Federation celebrates its 100th anniversary the nation will be hoping for landmark successes in the pool,

Danys Rapsys and Andrius Sidlauskas, arguably offer their best hopes of success in the 200m / 400m freestyle and 100m breaststroke, respectively.

Double Olympic medallist Mykhailo Romanchuk is by far the strongest distance swimmer in the 800m and 1500m fields, however, preparations have been understandable challenging for the Ukrainian since the outbreak of war in his nation.

Kuzey Tuncelli of Turkey – a World and European junior champion – will be keen to show his ability to challenge for senior honours, as will Poland’s Chmielewski twins Krzysztof and Michal.

Other ones-to-watch in the men’s field include Swiss Tokyo 2020 200m individual medley Olympic bronze medallist Jeremy Desplanches, Serbian team captain Velimir Stjepanovic, who won the 200m / 400m double at the 2014 Europeans in Berlin.

Apostolos Christou, of Greece and Nemeth Nandor of Hungary each won World bronze at Doha 2024 in their respective 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle events.

While the women’s line-up possesses fewer ‘household’ names, there are a host of athletes who have made major progress in recent years and are set to challenge for major honours either at Paris 2024, or Los Angeles 2028.

Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel is seeking a third-successive 200m individual medley title, after victories in 2020 and 2022.

The 20-year-old enters Belgrade 2024 off the back of claiming a maiden World honour, with 400m IM silver in Doha in February, which was also her nation’s first swimming medal in the history of the event.

Image Source: Lana Pudar competes in the women's 100m butterfly at the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup 2023 meet in Budapest, Hungary (David Balogh/Getty Images)

Lana Pudar was another to achieve a landmark honour at the Doha Worlds, claiming bronze in the 200m butterfly for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It was her nation’s first World championship medal in the sport and followed a similar breakthrough moment two years earlier at the Roma 2022 Europeans where she attained gold in her favoured 200m fly event.

Two other rising stars of the sport featuring in the women’s field include Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova and Merve Tuncel of Turkey who have claimed 17 European junior medals between them over the last three years.

Image Source: Boglarka Kapas in the afterglow of winning the Women's 50m Breaststroke Final at the European Swimming Championships 2016 in London, England. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A strong Hungarian team features Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Boglarka Kapas. She has claimed eight European titles in her career and will aim to secure one last continental honour before retirement later this year.

Team-mate Ajna Kesely is another veteran looking for further European honours while the nation’s world junior champions – Nikolett Padar and Dora Molnar will aim to provide further evidence of their potential for senior success.

Barbora Seemanova won the 200m freestyle event back at the 2020 Europeans in Budapest and the Czechia swimmer will be looking to return to major medal-winning form ahead of Paris 2024.

Also keep an eye out for 14-year-old Arla Dermishi of Albania, who made her World championship debut in February and will now make a senior European bow in Serbia.