With the 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham, England are the home team, so will be extra motivated to put on a good show in the midlands. That desire combined with the simple travel arrangements should, one would think, lead to a big squad being assembled for the competition, but it still has to go through the rigours of a good old fashioned selection policy. Here’s how the England team will be put together.
In common with the GB policy for the world championships, Swim England have taken the opportunity to preselect a group of swimmers based on their Olympic performances in Tokyo. That means everyone who made an individual final is guaranteed a ticket to Birmingham, namely:
- Adam Peaty
- Tom Dean
- Anna Hopkin
- Max Litchfield
- Abbie Wood
- Molly Renshaw
- Ben Proud
- James Wilby
- Luke Greenbank
- Alicia Wilson
This is sensible in the sense it allows the swimmers to focus on the Games, and not worry about selection at trials, but the swimmers will also want to get the nod for the world championships in Budapest. Of the English preselection, only Alicia Wilson is not guaranteed the trip to Budapest so at trials will be in the slightly unusual position of knowing she is on board for Birmingham, but still has to make the grade for Budapest.
The counterpoint to that is the position James Guy finds himself in – his selflessness in Tokyo where he gave up his individual swim in favour of relay success, means he is pre-selected for Budapest but doesn’t make the criteria for the Commonwealths. Barring injury though, and even if he doesn’t go all out at trials, it seems unlikely we won’t find him on the team through one of the other selection routes as we shall see.
Get on the train at trials
With 10 spots allocated to pre-selections, that leaves a maximum of 24 available to be filled in the pool at Sheffield to get to the allowable team limit of 34, but only 20 of these are available directly in the pool.
Swim England has set a full complement of consideration times, including the non-Olympic stroke 50s. Where events overlap, the times sit on average about 1.5% slower than the GB world championship times and fall between about 4th and 11th in the 2021 Commonwealth Rankings, with FINA points ranging from 833 to 898 for the women’s times and 814 to 908 for the men’s. It could be that the times represent the management’s best guess at what it might take to make a final this year.
|800 / 1500m Freestyle
|200m Individual Medley
|400m Individual Medley
|4 x 100m Freestyle
|4 x 200m Freestyle
|4 x 100m Medley
The English rankings from the last 12 months paint a largely positive picture against these standards, with 20 male and 12 female swims from 13 men and 7 women not preselected that make the grade, potentially swelling the team to its maximum even before relays are taken into account.
Relay times will be assessed using the four fastest relevant swims and a takeover allowance of 1.5 seconds. On the original policy, this assessment would have included any faster ranked performance from the Olympic Games but this has been kicked into the long grass with the latest revision, implying that only performances in Sheffield will be taken into account. There is no qualifying time for the mixed relays which will be made up from within the selected squad.
For Guy, and looking at the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly times, it would seem that he should be capable of making the grade even if not at full speed. But he, along with everyone else, can’t take it too easy, because it is important to note that these are consideration, and not qualifying, times.
Pre-empting the eventuality that more swimmers make the times than spaces remain, the policy states that swims (from the open, youth and junior finals on offer in Sheffield; it’s not entirely clear if B finals will be considered) will be ranked by percentage inside the consideration time to confirm nominations up to the limit of 30 spots. This seems to be the only criteria for filling these places so the top 20 by percentage should be on the team.
There are two remaining routes to Birmingham though, both relying on that swimmer’s favourite, selectorial discretion. Firstly, if the team is smaller than 30 after trials, the selectors have the ability to nominate additional swimmers up to that limit at their “absolute discretion”.
The other provision was originally for the final four true wildcard spots to be filled after a May world championships in Fukuoka. That’s obviously now not the case with those championships due to take place in July, just a few weeks before competition in Birmingham starts. So those 4 spots fall into another discretionary pot which will be named at the same time after trials.
The world championship criteria was always a slightly strange provision, because it seems hard to imagine a situation where someone not already pre-selected for England makes the world championship team by meeting the tougher GB qualifying times and yet doesn’t fall into the top picks for England.
Things are now much simpler with that now gone, and the team will be known at the start of May with the squad then heading off on the Mare Nostrum tour (and if James Guy isn’t in the team by now then something has probably gone awry).
Banner Image Courtesy GBSwimstars