14 still to go: the GB selection landscape

Molly Renshaw: Still seeking selection despite a FINA A time at trials
Molly Renshaw: Still seeking selection despite a FINA A time at trials Photo: Vaughn Ridley/

The dust has now well and truly settled on the British Olympic swimming trials and 38 swimmers will return to the Olympic aquatic centre this week for their orientation camp with selection well and truly secured.

But that will not be the extent of the team that will contest the games in the same waters in July, as 14 individual event places remain and there are still relay squad places up for grabs. These spots will be filled following the ASA National Championships which take place at Ponds Forge in June. The selection policy states that places for individual events will be given to:

the fastest available swimmer(s) achieving the FINA A qualification standard from times recorded in the final of the relevant event at the British Gas ASA Nationals 2012 or times recorded in the final of the relevant event at the Trials by swimmers who have already qualified in the relay or another individual event.

So, if you qualified in one event at trials and swam under the FINA A time in the final of another you could be in line for a second swim if no-one swims faster in the finals in Sheffield. If you’re not already selected you just need to swim the FINA A time In Sheffield and be faster than anyone already in the team.

This approach throws up some anomalies and is slight odd; for example Molly Renshaw (amongst many others) swam under the FINA A time in London in the 200m breaststroke but as she didn’t qualify in another event has to put in another taper just 5 weeks out from the games in order to swim the time again in Sheffield. Whether in that position swimmers and coaches may have opted to swim through the ASA champs if the FINA A time had already been achieved and take the risk that someone else may nip past them is a moot point – they have no option.

But leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the policy, that is what needs to be done. The table below summarises the remaining places in the squad and shows who is in pole position from trials for each, having either done the A time and been selected or in some cases having demonstrated that the required standard is within their capability already. Where no one swam an A time, the fastest unselected swimmer from the trials finals is shown, but clearly qualifiers could come from anywhere.

Event Already Qualified FINA A time Pole Position Trials Time
Men’s 50 Freestyle N/A 22.11 Adam Brown 22.48
Men’s 100 Freestyle N/A 48.82 Simon Burnett 49.33
Women’s 200 Freestyle Rebecca Turner 1:58.33 Caitlin McClatchey 1:58.07
Men’s 200 Freestyle Robbie Renwick 1:47.82 Ieuan Lloyd 1:47.68
Men’s 400 Freestyle Robbie Renwick 3:48.92 David Carry 3:48.36
Men’s 100 Butterfly Michael Rock 52.36 Jack Marriott 52.49
Men’s 100 Backstroke Liam Tancock 54.40 Chris Walker-Hebborn 54.46
Women’s 200 Backstroke Lizzie Simmonds 2:10.84 Stephanie Proud 2:09.94
Men’s 200 backstroke N/A 1:58.48 Calum Jarvis 1:59.48
Women’s 100 Breaststroke Kate Haywood 1:08.49 Stacey Tadd 1:08.96
Women’s 200 Breaststroke Stacy Tadd 2:26.89 Molly Renshaw 2:26.81
; Time from trials under the required selection standard
; Time from trials outside the required selection standard
Swimmers in bold have already been selected for another event or for a relay

it’s likely that a number of these spots, in particular in the men’s sprint freestyle will go unfilled, even after the second trials but there is another route to an individual swim for those already selected which is demonstrated in part by the women’s 100m breaststroke. Sophie Allen swam inside the FINA A time in the semi-final at trials, posting 1:08.44, however this does not count under the wording of the selection policy. She has two options; either she sits out the race in Sheffield and hopes no-one swims under the FINA A time, whereupon as a selected athelete already she may then be offered the swim on a discretionary basis, or she can swim in Sheffield and attempt to qualify directly. This is the only event where this particular situation occurs, but those on the team could still get additional swims, even without the A time, once FINA determines where the balance of their additional places for swimmers making the FINA B time will be allocated.

For the relay spots, additional swimmers can be added to take each squad to a maximum of 6. Given the make up of the team which leaves it well covered for the freestyle relay events, it may be a chance to give youngsters some experience as the policy does not give time standards for relay alternates.

In addition it is understood that Dennis Pursley wants to have backup swimmers for every leg of the medley relays which might mean some un-qualified swimmers getting spots on a relay squad and then getting individual swims as above. How this applies will depend on results in Sheffield but as things stand its most likely to benefit the men’s 100m backstroke and butterfly swimmers, with the only gap on the ladies side being in the 100m breaststroke where Stacey Tadd is already on the squad to provide cover to Kate Haywood.

With so many individual places up for grabs there will be an almighty qualification scramble in Sheffield. What’s for sure is that many remaining Olympic dreams will be realised, but just as many could be shattered.