Open Water Selection Intrigue

Following the FINA Olympic open water qualifying event which took place in Setubal, Portugal over the weekend, there has been much speculation surrounding the British participant in the men’s 10km event for London. This has been mainly centred around the battle between Daniel Fogg and David Davies, who were the two British representatives in the qualifier.

Fogg won the battle of the two Britons coming home in 35th place to Davies’ 38th, leading many to conclude that he will get the nod for London for the host nation spot. It’s certainly a convincing point of view aided by FINA publishing a press released stating that Fogg had been selected. But it might not be as simple as that.

Certainly there was no winner-takes-all selection battle going on, unless one of the duo had managed a top 9 finish which would have guaranteed a place under the British Olympic Selection Policy, although there are suggestions that the swimmers had been told that to be the case.

Given the results in Setubal, the relevant clause from the policy is as follows:

1.6 – If there are no British male qualifiers following selections in 1.2 or 1.5 above, one (1) male host nation place may be offered to an ‘available’ male swimmer at the complete discretion of the British Development/Open Water Coach and the National Performance Director. Such a decision will be made in consultation with the BOA following the conclusion of the FINA Olympic Marathon qualification 2012 and exercised in accordance with clause 3.3.

And the referenced clause 3.3 reads:

3.3 – Selections made at the discretion of the National Performance Director and the British Swimming Development/Open Water Coach in clause 1.3, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.7 will be subject to number of factors such as a swimmer’s past performance, their rate of progression, their Olympic medal potential for 2012 and/or 2016. Such nominations will be at the complete discretion of the National Performance Director and British Development/Open Water Coach taking into consideration those factors listed.

So the selection is discretionary, and based on a number of factors, most interesting of which is the medal potential for 2016, indicating that the performance director could yet opt to select an up-and-coming youngster with the aim of gaining experience for Rio, although this seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that Davies would be picked on the basis of those criteria; despite the pedigree of an Olympic silver medal, it’s fair to say that he remains at best an outside shot for a 2012 podium finish.

The most likely outcome is that Fogg, who finished 15th over 10km in Shanghai last year, will get the host nation place when the team is confirmed at the conclusion of the ASA National Championships in June. But there is still room for a surprise.