The European Open Water Swimming Cup in Eilat will showcase some great mid-season racing this weekend. While Germany will send its younger team, the British and Russians will be sending their top guns to Israel on May 18th.

Keri‐Anne Payne, the 2009 and 2011 world champion and the odds-on favorite in the Olympic marathon swim, is the headliner in one of her final tune-ups before she faces the pressure of the Olympic ambiance in London.

Payne’s fellow 2008 British silver medalist David Davies will also face a tough field in his own tune-up for a key race in June in Portugal. Davies is preparing in Eilat for what is essentially a swim-off in Portugal against his teammate Daniel Fogg for the final spot in the Olympic marathon swimming final.

In Eilat, Davies will undoubtedly be pushed by Russia’s up-and-coming and burly world 10km bronze medalist Sergey Bolshakov. Athletes from Cypress, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Russia and Turkey will fill out the rest of the pack in the first stage of the 2012 European Open Water Swimming Cup where 14,000 Euros will be distributed.

The dates of the remaining LEN Cup races include the 5km on June 2nd in Antalya, Turkey, 10km on August 4th in Hoorn, Netherlands, and 10km finale on September 12th on the Tuscan coast in Piombino, Italy.

Photo shows Russians Evgeny Drattsev (middle), Ekaterina Seliverstova (left) and Sergey Bolshakov (right) at the 2011 World Championships

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