Swimming Along the Road to Rio

The British swimming selection policy for the 2016 Olympics was published recently, and fans of spreadsheets can celebrate once more; the procedure follows the route established for the Commonwealth Games and world championships, with tough first up selections and then a percentage based waiting game for those who do not make the automatic cut.

The straight selections

As with the 2015 policy, the automatic qualifying times are based on world ranked 6th time, 2 per nation, this time as at the end of events in Kazan. These times are shown in the table below, with those highlighted red being quicker than the 2015 times and those in green being slower, albeit the changes are fairly small in the grand scheme of things.

TABLE 1 – Qualification Times
Event Men Women
50 Freestyle 0:21.84 0:24.37
100 Freestyle 0:48.16 0:53.68
200 Freestyle 1:45.91 1:55.88
400 Freestyle 3:44.81 4:04.66
800 Freestyle n/a 8:22.93
1500 Freestyle 14:55.11 n/a
100 Backstroke 0:52.99 0:59.05
200 Backstroke 1:55.13 2:08.21
100 Breaststroke 0:59.38 1:06.43
200 Breaststroke 2:08.52 2:22.08
100 Butterfly 0:51.24 0:57.44
200 Butterfly 1:54.46 2:06.51
200 Individual Medley 1:56.82 2:10.19
400 Individual Medley 4:12.08 4:35.46

Win your event at Trials in Glasgow and swim faster than these times, no easy feat of course, and you can pack your bags for Rio.

The Wildcards

As with 2015, up to 6 wildcard selections can be made to take the team to its maximum size of 30. Where this digresses significantly from the policy this year, is that these selections will be made before any secondary selections are considered. In 2015 they were used primarily for relay cover, but at this stage of the selection process in 2016 it won’t be clear which relay teams are on the plane, so how these will be used will be intriguing, although one can imagine a scenario where an ill Adam Peaty or James Guy is added at this stage.

Filling the Team

Once the automatic and wildcard selections are done and dusted, it’s time to bring out the calculator once more to see who else makes the grade. Winners not already selected and runners up from trials, along with relay teams made up of the first four finishers in the relevant events, will be ranked against a very tough set of secondary times in Table 2 of the policy. As before a cut off of 2% over these times will be used, and anyone over that will not be going to Brazil.

Event Men Men + 2% Women Women +2%
50 Freestyle 0:21.51 0:21.94 0:24.23 0:24.71
100 Freestyle 0:47.65 0:48.60 0:52.84 0:53.90
200 Freestyle 1:44.59 1:46.68 1:55.06 1:57.36
400 Freestyle 3:43.50 3:47.97 4:02.56 4:07.41
800 Freestyle     8:17.18 8:27.12
1500 Freestyle 14:42.70 15:00.35    
100 Backstroke 0:52.42 0:53.47 0:58.52 0:59.69
200 Backstroke 1:53.64 1:55.91 2:06.01 2:08.53
100 Breaststroke 0:59.03 1:00.21 1:05.63 1:06.94
200 Breaststroke 2:07.90 2:10.46 2:21.92 2:24.76
100 Butterfly 0:50.80 0:51.82 0:56.58 0:57.71
200 Butterfly 1:53.75 1:56.03 2:05.64 2:08.15
200 Individual Medley 1:56.07 1:58.39 2:08.33 2:10.90
400 Individual Medley 4:08.74 4:13.71 4:31.15 4:36.57
4 x 100 Freestyle 3:10.74 3:14.55 3:32.90 3:37.16
4 x 200 Freestyle 7:03.35 7:11.82 7:45.49 7:54.80
4 x 100 Medley 3:30.35 3:34.56 3:54.47 3:59.16

The analysis below, based on the 2015 British rankings, suggests 10 swimmers will qualify of right under the table 1 criteria. Add to that 6 wildcards and 14 spaces will hence remain for selection under table 2.

Those spaces will need to include for swimmers required to make up relay quartets who will be ranked along with individual swimmers. Of course selection of relays also depends on the teams having a place in Rio. As it stands all but the Women’s 4 x 100 free are in that position having secured qualification in Kazan. That quartet, if in the running for selection, would have to secure an Olympic place at the European championships following rials.

Applying the 2% cut off and ranking swimmers against the criteria based on the percentage over the table 2 time, suggests that the cut off will fall at around 1.9% and the neither the men’s or women’s 4×100 free teams will make the grade, although the selectors have the option of plugging in relay split times from Kazan to try and get the squads under the selection standard. On that basis those teams could make it, albeit it’s really only going to help the men given the women didn’t swim the event at worlds, and this would cut more people out.

For the purposes of the relay analysis, Sophie Taylor has not been included in the women’s medley quartet, which puts them on a knife edge for selection. Without the 4×100 free teams, the 2% figure only then cuts off one swimmer, Rachael Kelly in this case, so it would appear that unless there is a large general step forward at Trials, getting inside that 2% cut off may well be good enough for selection. The full analysis is below.

It promises to be an up and down week of swimming in Glasgow at Trials, with some fingernails being bitten as the meet reaches its conclusion. As ever we’ll keep the selection progress updated throughout the meet.