Appeal lodged over Renshaw’s omission

Following finalisation of the British Olympic swimming team on Sunday, an appeal against the non-selection of Molly Renshaw has been lodged after the 16 year old breaststroker was left out of the team, despite having swum the FINA A qualifying time at the Olympic Trials in March

There is no suggestion that British Swimming has not followed their written selection policy, nor is it an appeal against a subjective judgement as in the case of diver Tonia Couch and Paralympic swimmer Dave Roberts, with the criteria having been applied in a purely objective manner. The appeal is instead thought to hinge on an apparent anomaly that allows swimmers to be picked for individual swims despite having failed to record a FINA A time at either of the selection competitions. Meanwhile times from the March trials could be used to allocate vacant spaces to swimmers otherwise selected.

Renshaw’s camp have announced they are appealing against the position, arguing that British Swimming is being unreasonable in its selection policy, but have been keen to stress they do not object in any form to any of the selections that have been made. Apart from the apparent disparity in selection approach inherent in the policy, the appeal will also claim that Renshaw has been penalised by British Swimming instructing that her primary event for the summer would be the European Junior Championships, thus weakening her performance in Sheffield last week.

The deadline for finalising British entries to the games is the 7th July and hence appeal proceedings, if allowed, would need to be convened and completed before that date. It is understood a decision will be made within 24 hours.

The non-selection of Molly Renshaw certainly seems like a harsh call.

None of the coaches pullbuoy has spoken to can shed any light on why, in the final selection, times from trials were only considered for those already qualified. Nor is it clear how this provision in the selection policy could have led to a stronger team. In certain circumstances it could even have lead to a weaker team being picked, with the fastest British swimmer left at home.

It is in this aspect the policy that appears to be flawed and it certainly seems to favour those who are in line for relay selection, giving them greater opportunity to gain individual swims – Adam Brown for example was picked for the team courtesy of a 4th placed finish in the 100m free, but now has his individual 50m swim as a consequence.

Not that we should begrudge those who have benefited from this clause their places – they have worked as hard as anyone else to reach their dream and have only followed the published and agreed procedures. But to have an empty place in the Olympic team and a swimmer with a FINA A time sitting at home, just because it was swum on the wrong day – and particularly when British swimmers are competing with qualifying times recorded last year – seems like red tape gone mad.