FOUR Olympic champions will be among the 142 swimmers from 15 nations taking part in the Epson World Cup in Hong Kong next week. Russian duo Alexandre Popov and Evgueni Sadovyi, German Dagmar Hase and China's Lin Li have all been confirmed for the two-day short-course (25 metres) event, which will be held at Kowloon Park on January 1-2. The line-up also includes Chinese teenagers Le Jingyi and Dai Guohong, who won five individual gold medals between them at the inaugural World Short-Course Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, recently, plus a host of other champions and world record holders from Europe and Australia. The teams were announced yesterday by the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association and Johnny Li, chief executive of the organising committee, said it was easily the strongest line-up of swimmers ever assembled in the territory. ''There will be 10 world champions and world record-holders from Australia, China, Germany and Great Britain coming to Hong Kong and competition will be strong in all men's and women's events,'' said Li. ''As well as a 10-strong team from Russia, European swimming powerhouses Germany and Sweden are also sending big squads. ''There will be 17 events on each of the two days, so 34 gold medals will be up for grabs. Hopefully we will see some world records broken in Hong Kong.'' Popov and Sadovyi both won two gold medals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Popov was the undisputed sprint king, finishing first in the 50 metres and 100 metres freestyle events, while Sadovyi took gold in the 200 metres and 400 metres freestyle races. In the women's events, Hase won the 400 metres freestyle - the only gold medallist for the unified German team - and China's Lin set a world record in winning the 200 metres individual medley. Other Barcelona Olympic medal winners coming to Hong Kong are Russian backstroker Vladimir Selkov, breaststroke specialists Philip Rogers (Australia) and Nick Gillingham (Britain), Swedish freestyle star Anders Holmertz and Italy's Luca Sacchi, who was third in the men's 400 metres individual medley. China's other three golden girls in Barcelona - Yang Wenyi (50 metres freestyle), Zhuang Yong (100 metres freestyle) and Qian Hong (100 metres butterfly) - have all retired. The new crop of mainland talent will be represented by 18-year-old Le and 16-year-old Dai. Their five golds in the recent World Short-Course Championships were all won in world record times. Le won gold in the 50 metres and 100 metres freestyle and Dai won three golds - in the 400 metres individual medley and the 100 metres and 200 metres breaststroke. The line-up features a total of eight champions from those short-course championships - Chinese female trio Le, Dai and Liu Limin (200 metres butterfly), Australians Rogers (100 metres breaststroke) and Daniel Kowalski (400 and 1,500 metres freestyle), British duo Gillingham (200 metres breaststroke) and Mark Foster (50 metres freestyle) and Germany's Christian Keller (200 metres individual medley). The 15 teams are Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, South Korea, Russia, Sweden, Vietnam, Macau and Hong Kong. The two-day meet, which is costing $1.04 million to stage, is the first leg of a seven-stage World Cup which also takes in China, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and France. Two Chinese specialists will take charge of the doping tests under the supervision of an expert from the world governing body, FINA. To modify Kowloon Park's 50-metre pool, the Urban Council will install a removable aluminium bulkhead for the setting of time equipment, making the venue the only pool in Hong Kong capable of staging both standard length and short-course competitions. Thebulkhead has cost $450,000 and will be installed between December 24-26. Association secretary Chu Ka-shum said there were three reasons why the Hong Kong ASA had decided to host this event. ''First, it will allow Hong Kong to have the experience of organising an international swimming event at FINA level. We will also take this opportunity to upgrade the standard of our officials, equipment, venue and other related aspects. ''Second, more Hong Kong swimmers will be able to compete with elite swimmers from other parts of the world. ''Third, the swimming association would like to take this opportunity to attract more commercial sponsors to support our activities.''