Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Kenneth To (AUS) lead the race for the top prize of $100,000 on the World Cup circuit after the Beijing round at the weekend and heading into the Tokyo (Tuesday and Wednesday) and Singapore rounds that will bring the curtain down on the 2012 circuit next weekend.
In Beijing, Hosszu claimed her 30th win in 46 finals on tour to take her earnings to $52,000 after six meets. There's been no let up for the 23-year-old Hungarian who has taken on the World Cup Tour like college swimmers take on a gruelling meet regime in the US. She has also claimed five second places and four thirds.
Her teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos has raced in 40 finals, visited 28 podiums (1 gold and 21 silver in the mix and most of those seconds behind Hosszu) and earned US$25,500.
Most finals sessions have seen Hosszu and Jakabos take on three or four battles. Hosszu's low-point was Berlin, where stiffer competition and a cold left her struggling.
In Beijing, Hosszu told reporters: "I definitely feel very tired but I am trying to keep going. I feel like I always learn something. Swimming in so many races, I think I have more chances to put theory into practice and work on what I need to improve like starts and turns. Every time I learn something technically, it helps me to mentally get into the event."
Asked about the limited break between races, Hosszu said it was more important to shift mental focus than recover physical strength. "I need to learn not to think about my next race," she said. "But I am always like, 'Oh my god, I still have two or three more races'. I try to go into each race as though it's my last one."
On the prospect of $100,000, Hosszu said: "I actually didn't even think I was going to swim that well. My main goals coming into the World Cup were to basically train and practice my racing. I never thought I would have such great races, so the money basically is just a bonus."
Hosszu, who starting swimming at 5, in Baja, has been based at the University of South California with coach Dave Salo for several years, the highlight of her career so far the world 400m medley title in 2009 at the height of the shiny suits crisis. At London 2012, she finished fourth in the long medley and now has her sights set on Rio 2016.
World Cup results in full at Omega Live Timing.