The "strongest field ever gathered" for an International Swimming Federation (FINA) Marathon Swim World Series leg will compete in Balatonfüred tomorrow with Olympic and world champions vying for top honours.
Among those set to compete on Lake Balaton in the Hungarian town is home favourite Kristóf Rasovszky, who triumphed in the men’s 10 kilometres race in Setubal in Portugal last Saturday (June 9).
Speaking at the opening press conference next to the competition venue, the bay in front of the Tagore Promenade, Rasovszky was optimistic but insisted that victory would not come easily this time.
"In Setubal I could break from the pack relatively unnoticed," he said.
"At least I learnt this from the discussions with the other guys after the race.
"The waves blocked the view of the others and then I caught up with the girls, so no-one could recognise that there is a man up front among the many caps.
"I don’t think this could be repeated here but for sure, I won’t miss the course as I did in Seychelles where I led almost the entire race but took the wrong direction after the penultimate turn and missed out on a medal.
"I know the course like my palm.
"If I can put together a fine plan and stay focused for the entire race, then I can finally make the podium which I’ve never achieved so far at home."
Rasovszky's main challenge is likely to come from Olympic champion Ferry Weertman, the Dutchman who added the world title to his treasury in Hungary's capital Budapest last year.
Another world champion, 25km gold medallist Axel Reymond of France, will also line up for the start, as will the 2016 and 2017 overall title-holder Simone Ruffini, the Italian who won the last World Cup race in Balatonfüred two years ago.
The women’s 10km race also promises to be an exciting one with the field headed by Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal of The Netherlands.
One of the most decorated swimmers of the discipline, Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha has fond memories from Lake Balaton having won at the 2015 World Cup event held there.
She also made history last year by claiming medals in all three individual events at the World Championships - gold in the 25km and bronzes in the 5km and 10km.
"I love to come back here from time to time as I have great memories from Lake Balaton, especially from last year," Cunha said at the opening press conference.
"I’m healthy and I’m ready for the start, but I know it’s going to be another pretty tough race."
Balatonfüred played host to the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in 2014.
It also staged World Cup legs in 2015 and 2016, but was left off the calendar in 2017 due to preparations for the World Championships in Budapest.
"I'm not an expert, but those who know this sport convinced me that this event is going to be like another World Championships," Balatonfüred Mayor István Bóka said.
"I hope our city has become a trademark name in open water swimming based on our efforts in the last five years as we hosted at least one major event in each season since 2013.
"Last year’s Word Championships were the peak for us and our city benefited a lot from that event.
"The list of all developments would be too long to recall now."