Daniel Sliwinski has been ruled out of the London Olympics with a shoulder tendon injury which requires surgery and three month’s rehabilitation. The British record holder for the 100m breaststroke, Sliwinski has struggled with injury over the past few years but had looked to be approaching his best form again when he won the British selection trials in March before this latest setback.
“It is an athlete’s worst nightmare” he said in a statement released via British Swimming “I have had a couple of injuries and I need to go back and rebuild the foundations. I am still young enough to think about Rio 2016, but I need to address this injury before it gets worse.”
Indications are that the injury could potentially have been managed, allowing him to compete in London, but probably not at his best. A longer term view has therefore been taken, with eyes on next year’s World Championships and the Olympics in 2016.
Sliwinski’s withdrawal opens up a place on the British team for the 100m breaststroke alongside Craig Benson, with British Swimming announcing that the spot would be filled after the ASA National Championships in Sheffield this week.
That raises a number of questions about how the selection will be made. On the face of it, it could be treated as any other event with an open spot, meaning that the winner in Sheffield would be picked if they race under the FINA A time of 1:00.79, but also faster than the 1:00.50 that Michael Jamieson posted for third place at the trials.
However coming at this late stage, it leaves no time for those with an eye on the swim to change their plans. With all four individual breaststroke places allocated at trials, it’s unlikely that either Andrew Willis or Jamieson, the two swimmers selected for the 200m event, will be resting for Sheffield and would hence not be guaranteed to swim the required time. Jamieson is in the box seat, but Willis swam the FINA A time in the trials heats so may have fancied his chances with a clear run at the second trials. Either could be offered the spot under the existing terms of the selection policy, which allows for selected athletes to take addtional swims if places remain, provided they have met the qualifying time.
Beyond those two it seems unlikely anyone else can meet the required standard. The 5th ranked British swimmer in 2012 is the now-retired Kris Gilchrist (what price a late comeback?) while in 6th lies Russell Smith who posted 1:01.54 in the heats in London. Seventh placed is Richard Webb, who could also be a contender, but is better over the longer 200m distance.
Regardless of results at ASA Nationals, the pick may yet fall back on the discretion of Michael Scott and Dennis Pursley, with the selection policy allowing them the leeway to make the final call, as this specific scenario is not explicitly covered. In reality it seems highly unlikely that anyone other than Jamieson will get the nod unless there are some remarkable results this week.