The opening leg of the 2020 International Swimming Federation (FINA) Champions Swim Series is set to take place in Shenzhen over the coming two days.
It will be the first of two legs in China that make up the second edition of the event, with the other scheduled to be held in Beijing on Saturday (January 18) and Sunday (January 19).
A total of 70 swimmers from 26 nations have made the entry list, comprising 41 men and 29 women.
The participants have an accumulated a total of 59 Olympic and 163 World Championship medals between them.
Among the men, American stars Anthony Ervin, Matt Grevers and Ryan Murphy will take part, while Russia will be represented by rising prospects Andrei Minakov and Oleg Kostin, and the winner of the 2019 FINA Swimming World Cup, Vladimir Morozov.
From China, individual medley swimmer Wang Shun and backstroke ace Xu Jiayu will be among the athletes competing at home.
Daiya Seto, the 200 metres and 400m individual medley gold medallist at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in South Korean city Gwangju, will lead operations for Japan, while Nicholas Santos is expected to inspire his Brazilian team-mates Felipe Lima, João Gomes Júnior and Marcelo Chierighini.
Tamás Kenderesi, the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist in the 200m butterfly, has been included in the Hungarian delegation, along with Ádám Telegdy and Dominik Kozma.
Greece’s Kristian Gkolomeev and Switzerland’s Jérémy Desplanches, silver medallists in the 50m freestyle and 200m individual medley at Gwangju 2019, will also be present.
On the women’s side, three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszú will be the athlete to beat.
She will be well accompanied by her Hungarian team-mates Boglárka Kapás, Liliána Szilágyi and Ajna Késely.
📣 Meet today's Featured athlete 🌟XU Jiayu🌟 Olympic silver medallist and twice consecutive World champion in the 100M BACK.— FINA (@fina1908) January 13, 2020
Watch out for him in the FINA Champions Swim Series next week on 14-19 Jan. 🏊♀️
LEARN MORE: https://t.co/dTVjGZSN8A#CSS2020 #swimming pic.twitter.com/ioN2fsgj4b
From The Netherlands, a powerful delegation will have Ranomi Kromowidjojo as its strongest asset, with her compatriots Femke Heemskerk and Kira Toussaint also motivated to shine.
From Russia, Anastasiia Fesikova travels to China with Anna Egorova and Svetlana Chimrova, while Danish star Jeanette Ottesen is entered for the butterfly races.
The home delegation is also quite strong, with Rio 2016 100m backstroke bronze medallist Fu Yuanhui and individual medley specialist Ye Shiwen.
The FINA Champions Swim Series includes a two-day schedule for each leg, with 14 individual and one relay race per session.
Following on from last year's formula, no heats are held, with the four invited swimmers directly contesting the respective finals.
An entertainment programme, with a music and lighting show, will also be performed during each of the sessions.
Prize money of more than $1.2 million (£900,000/€1.1 million) per leg will be distributed to the participating swimmers.
FINA's creation of the event was seen as a direct response to the rival International Swimming League (ISL), whose inaugural edition took place from October to December 2019.
Top stars had complained about a lack of high-quality competitions and prize money, two factors the ISL is said to address.
A legal battle saw FINA reportedly ban athletes from competing at an ISL meet which was viewed as a rival to its existing World Cup circuit.
This led to ISL organisers and swimmers taking legal action against FINA, leading to the threat being withdrawn by the governing body.