Kazan: Australian teenager Mack Horton is relishing taking on the planet`s best endurance racers including China`s Olympic champion Sun Yang when the swimming section of the world championships starts on Sunday.
Horton stormed to victory in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle finals at the Australian trials, clocking the world`s fastest times over the two shorter distances in the process and will race in all three events here.
He demolished the 1500m field by cruising to victory in 14 minutes 44.09 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and the quickest in history by an 18-year-old before he turned 19 in April.
He is a rising star over the mile distance and took Commonwealth Games silver in the 1500m freestyle behind Canada`s Ryan Cochrane in Glasgow last year.
Horton is tipped as a medallist in the event and having narrowly missed out on selection for both the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world championships in Barcelona, he is eager to compete.
"I had a few personal bests at the trials, which was nice, but I`m just delighted to be here," said Horton with the men`s 400m final scheduled for Sunday and the 1500m final exactly a week later on the closing day.
"I missed the London team for 2012 after missing the qualifying time and got touched out on the wall for the Barcelona team, so it`s great to finally be at a world championships.
"It`s been a long time coming.
"I have done a fair amount of international racing, but never had the whole field there, only dribs and drabs, so it`s exciting to have a strong field to push me and see how far I can go."
While Horton`s times in the Kazan build-up look impressive on paper, he faces the sternest test against Sun, who swept the treble of 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world golds in Barcelona two years ago.
Like Horton, Sun will race all three events in Kazan.
Sun won the 1500m freestyle final at the London Olympics with a phenomenal world record of 14mins 31.02secs and remains the name to beat.
Only European champion Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy has swum faster than Horton over 1500m this year, while Japan`s Ayatsugu Hirai, USA`s Connor Jaeger and Britain`s Stephen Milne have all gone under 15 minutes in 2015.
But Horton knows Sun will be saving his best for the world stage in Kazan to throw down a yardstick ahead of next years Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"I think it`s just exciting to have a strong field," said the Australian.
"I did a training camp on the Gold Coast back in 2012, when Sun was there and although I didn`t race him, the Chinese were training alongside us and I saw him do some pretty crazy things in the pool.
"I am excited to race one of the best freestylers in the world and see where he can push me.
"He came up to me and introduced himself at the pool here, he seems a friendly guy."