2021 Canadian Olympic Trials Will Be Timed Finals, Only 20 Swimmers Per Event

The 2021 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials will look drastically different than what we’ve seen in the past.

Swimming Canada announced some major changes to next year’s meet in light of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, with the event most notably switching to a timed finals format with a limited number of athletes invited to allow for “sufficient physical distancing and other risk mitigating protocols”.

Each event will be contested as a timed final, with a maximum of 20 swimmers invited per race. This will allow the events to run over two 10-lane heats, with dedicated warm-up and warm-down periods before and after each event.

Additionally, Paralympic events will be contested as multi-class timed finals, with a maximum of 15 swimmers per event.

“Today we announce some key decisions for 2021, based on the best information we have available,” said High Performance Director John Atkinson. “In this global COVID-19 pandemic, we have to make health and safety the priority, along with allowing for the best possible performance from our athletes who will be invited to the Trials.”

The 2021 Canadian Olympic Trials are scheduled for April 7-11, 2021 in Toronto.

The organization also announced the cancellation of its Open Water Swimming Trials, scheduled for April 17-18 in Grand Cayman, and says that the remaining spots available for the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan will be contested for in the 1500 freestyle at the Trials.

With so few swimmers given the opportunity to compete, this also means that the Trials will no longer serve as a selection meet for the 2021 FINA World Junior Swimming and Open Water Swimming Championships, and that Canada will not send a team to next year’s World University Games.

“We do not take the decisions announced today lightly,” said Atkinson. “We strive to ensure all in swimming are aware of the decisions and why we are taking them, and to give our athletes time to make plans based on the decisions,” Atkinson said.

“While some of the decisions may not be popular, we determined this was the best alternative after a great deal of work went into considering multiple scenarios.”

In terms of the process for inviting athletes, Swimming Canada says it will post an initial ranked list of 30 swimmers per event by December 22, with the first round of invitations to be sent out on January 6.

Additional detail on the invitation process and other changes can be found here.

“The primary purpose of the Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials is to select athletes to be nominated to Team Canada for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.

“In a global pandemic, every scenario has its drawbacks, and any event we offer must be done with health and safety as the top priority. By hosting these Trials as an invitational event, it allows us to run a swim meet as safely as possible while giving us the best chance of selecting our Olympic and Paralympic teams as fairly as possible.”

Atkinson also added that if the situation should improve by the time April rolls around, Swimming Canada may consider altering the Trials format, but it will not invite more swimmers to compete. This would perhaps mean that the organization would consider having traditional prelims and finals with a pared-down field.

“Conversely, should the COVID-19 pandemic have improved significantly, the review may address the format of the Trials, however this will not see more athletes invited to the Trials,” he said.

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xman
7 months ago

I’m wondering at what point America follows suit (Top 24 in each event?).
Only difference is our trials is in June.

NC Fan
Reply to  xman
7 months ago

Long time between now and June! No reason to make hasty decisions. Also, US Trials have to be the biggest money maker for USA Swimming so I would expect they would do everything possible to maximize ‘Safe’ attendance. Too bad Canada couldn’t push them off later to see what happens.

Ghost
Reply to  NC Fan
7 months ago

No reason! Maybe don’t need a temporary facility built inside an arena?!? Maybe IUPUI a would be a better fit. I agree June is a long way away but some things can’t be done at last minute. I bet usa swimming has all the bases covered.
Covid will only get worse thru end of January how long it takes to get the vaccine out will probably determine what happens! The vaccine company has already said usa is getting 10% of what they said for 2020! Huge difference! When will general population get vaccine to determine if fans can watch?!?!?

Xman
Reply to  NC Fan
7 months ago

I agree, but I wonder at what point will they decide
April, May?

What I wonder is if we will have NCAA championship this year. That might be the deciding factor for what Olympic Trials does

That meet as a limited number of people and essentially 3 heats of every event. If it pulls off without major issues that might be what USA Swimming copies.

If it goes bad then I can’t imagine what happens…

Bo Swims
Reply to  Xman
7 months ago

2 heats (10 lane pool)

BobbyJones
Reply to  NC Fan
7 months ago

They could… they dont want

swimfin5
7 months ago

Sad for all the kids who might have surprised us and themselves and now don’t have a chance to make an Olympic team

Runnergrl37
Reply to  swimfin5
7 months ago

That’s exactly what I was thinking. What about those who could totally shock everyone and now they won’t have a chance.

Mrs. Swimming
Reply to  swimfin5
7 months ago

Definitely unfortunate but is this a scenario actually likely to play out? When is the last time someone made Canada’s Olympic team that was outside the top 20 the season prior?

Team BC
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

Lindsay Seeman! Legend! David Sharpe was about there too in 2012

Mrs. Swimming
Reply to  Team BC
7 months ago

David Sharpe only went a 1.4 second PB in his 200 fly at the 2012 trials, PB of 2:00.2 from July 2011 ranked him 4th in Canada that season (so not even remotely close to 20th lol).

Lindsay Seeman also not there. PB of 2:17.1 lcm from the season prior would have ranked 8th (in prelims and finals) at the same trials she won at 2008 trials, so also no way this was outside the top 20 the prior season.

Mrs. Swimming
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

Both great swims of course, no hate hahaha. Just saying, top 20 is quite a bit of leeway. Don’t know if THAT kind of breakthrough swim has happened in recent Canadian swimming history.

swimfin5
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

Don’t forget there are no results from 2020 either. We are talking about a 2 year development here. Especially girls 14-16 years age range a lot can happen

BobbyJones
Reply to  swimfin5
7 months ago

Exactly!!! Surprises could happen!

Canadian Swimmer
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

Yes, far less likely here than in the US. That 2012 outside smoke 200 fly by Sharpe was legendary though.

Team BC
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

I think your right about David Sharpe considering his FISU, but still those two had huge progressions in their previous years before Olympic qualifications. Considering this is a Covid year, it is worrying that plenty of young swimmers in the same situation that Seeman/Sharpe were in are robbed of a LCM season to show any progress.

BobbyJones
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
7 months ago

A bunch of times…
Some havent had the chance to put their training to LC since July 2019!

Last edited 7 months ago by BobbyJones
BobbyJones
Reply to  BobbyJones
7 months ago

Why is Swim canada disliking my comment….

Admin
Reply to  BobbyJones
7 months ago

Why do you assume that only Swim Canada would dislike your comment? And further, be so hung up on that idea, that you keep coming back a few days later to comment it over and over again? You’re so convinced that everything you say is 100% and that 100% of the swimming community agrees with you, aside from Swimming Canada, that they could be the only ones possibly downvoting your comments?

The best part is that you’ve ignored the possibility that downvotes are people who agree with you. It’s possible that some downvoters are downvoting the fact that swimmers haven’t gotten a LC chance since 2019.

Weirdest of flexes hombre.

Brian M
Reply to  swimfin5
7 months ago

I will gladly take this scenario rather then not have anything at all. I am still holding my breath that trials/Olympics even happens at all.

BobbyJones
Reply to  swimfin5
7 months ago

Exactly!! Unfair as hell

Mike
7 months ago

With a vaccine on the horizon it seems like postponing until June would have been a good idea.

Bacal
Reply to  Mike
7 months ago

Why not delay Canadian trials for 4-8 weeks? Why stuck on the April dates? Seems like the US team makes it work with a June trials date.

NJones
Reply to  Bacal
7 months ago

CAN has rarely run a late spring trials so this brings some regularity into a highly irregular year. However they have included caviets and 2nd chances to be added to the team later in the spring if any spots still available. I think this is a good scenario overall, the top dogs will secure their spot and then get back to training. Upstarts will have outside extra shot, space pending, if they can perform later.

Rap
7 months ago

“cancellation of its Open Water Swimming Trials, scheduled for April 17-18 in Grand Cayman, and says that the remaining spots available for the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan will be contested at the pool trials.”

10km in the pool? or they going to just look at the 1500?

Rap
Reply to  Rap
7 months ago

NVM – found my own answer at : https://www.swimming.ca/content/uploads/2019/11/Key-Points-for-Modified-2021-Olympic-Paralympic-Trials.pdf
” Based on these exceptional circumstances, the selection of the second male and female swimmer to compete at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier will be based on the results of the 1500m freestyle event at the 2021 Olympic & Paralympic Trials. Details of this process will be published in January 2021.”

1001pools
Reply to  Rap
7 months ago

Yeah, I’m fine with the Top 20 approach for all the pool events, but selecting the 10K swimmer from the 1500 seems a bit off. While it is true that more 1500 specialists are now doing open water, there are definitely some 10K specialists out there that should be given the opportunity to qualify in the 10K. If they’re going to select the 10K from a pool event, why not run a special, one heat of each men & women, 10K in the pool?

BobbyJones
Reply to  Rap
7 months ago

Strictly a 1500m in a pool! Open water swimmers have to practice their flips now!

Snarky
7 months ago

Well. Canada has 419k positives and only 12k Covid deaths. The US, whose president promised it would “magically disappear” by Easter, has 15 Million cases and closing in on 300k dead. I respect the fact that Canada had actual leaders who took this pandemic seriously but given their covid issue dwarfs that of the US, this plan seems a big overkill. On the other hand, if covid numbers in the US continue the way they are going, Canada’s plan seems like a good one for the US but for the timed finals idea.

Aussieone
Reply to  Snarky
7 months ago

Think you mean US covid issues dwarfs Canada’s issues

Doconc
Reply to  Snarky
7 months ago

How does swimming in bleach for a minute or two put anyone at risk??
NO confirmed transmissions in pools.

Joke concept

Northern SwimParent
7 months ago

Wow and scary!

Just A Swammer
7 months ago

Wonder why they couldn’t host trials at multiple sites. Maybe from those sites, you could have selected the top 20 times and have the finals there. Regardless, I think Swim Canada could have done a much better job including more athletes while still adhering to COVID safety protocols.

Just A Swammer
Reply to  Just A Swammer
7 months ago

I will add though that perhaps this is the right decision based on how out of control the virus can become. It just sucks man.

H2Oooooo
Reply to  Just A Swammer
7 months ago

You wouldn’t want Olympic hopefuls to be at different pools to give them a fair chance. They could have multiple sites for people ranked lower than 20th but it wouldn’t be fair for the potential olympians

Swimfan26
7 months ago

I find it amazing how this is a top priority but as for Canada they just lost there too female distance swimmer, it will be interesting to see who steps up and tries to take what would’ve been Mackenzie Padington’s spot. I think some younger swimmers could pull through here and make the team

AllSwimFan
Reply to  Swimfan26
7 months ago

Katrina Bellio and Summer McIntosh might be able to do it

njones
Reply to  AllSwimFan
7 months ago

Emma (sorry forgot her last name) from EKSC who’s been on a couple of SR teams past couple years in mid/distance free…

Splash
Reply to  njones
7 months ago

O’Cronin

BobbyJones
Reply to  Swimfan26
7 months ago

they wont be invited if they have done good times since summer 2019

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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