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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Kevin Sangster
1 year ago

As Covid becomes clearer and vaccines are available time to do a Re-Think!

BobbyJones
2 years ago

The number of thumbs down to your comment is a bit weird… that Swim Canada decision is just plain wrong!

BobbyJones
Reply to  BobbyJones
2 years ago

SwimCan thumbing down comments?

Stop complaining
Reply to  BobbyJones
2 years ago

Swim CAnada is bound by the provincial health orders, as it stands they can’t host a larger event it’s not possible.
There are swimmers who have been training for their entire careers to make this team, that should be the focus. Yes of course it would be preferable to have a trials as we’ve had in the past but at the moment it’s not possible so let’s focus on having something for those swimmers who have been through a tremendous amount of stress and have sacrificed years for this opportunity.

BobbyJones
Reply to  Stop complaining
1 year ago

Swim CAnada is bound by the provincial health orders, as it stands they can’t host a larger event it’s not possible.

  • Postpone to June (like a lot of countries)
  • Have it as a 2-3 weekend event (make it work)

Yes of course it would be preferable to have a trials as we’ve had in the past but at the moment it’s not possible so let’s focus on having something for those swimmers who have been through a tremendous amount of stress and have sacrificed years for this opportunity.

  • Swimmers who havents posted LC times since July 19 for whatever reason and could cause a surprise havent been through stress and no sacrifice?? Weird comment… pathetic even….
BobbyJones
2 years ago

Determining a 10k race with a 1500 in a pool is really good! …said no one

BobbyJones
Reply to  BobbyJones
2 years ago

SwimCan disliked my comment 🙁

BobbyJones
2 years ago

”As fairly as possible…”

sure!

swim101
2 years ago

This has been a rollercoaster year for all swimmers. From being at your fittest in the last stretch to 2020 Trials to a complete stop of multiple months. To pond swimming, to lake swimming, to lap swimming, to full training, stop and start again. It is a mental ride and although I appreciate Swim Canada take a stand, it still leaves multiple questions. Why timed finals? Since there has been zero transmission for Covid in pools based on so many scientific evidence, why can’t this be implemented? How exactly does Swim Canada think it is going to work with 400 IM and 800 free on one day? Are these events spread over the day? Has Swim Canada looked at any… Read more »

Swim or Die
2 years ago

This is Garbage! What is Swim Canada thinking? Timed Finals?????
This format is going to get our swimmers smoked at the Olympics. The rest of the swimming world are doing heat and finals meets at this time. I sincerely doubt any other country is going to use this format for their Trials.

I have to ask: Did Swim Canada even talk or ask for feedback from any of the Coaches or our top swimmers about this?

For all of Atkinson’s talk about Canada making a major splash at the Olympics leading up to it before COVID hit, this is a huge disappointing step backwards for our world ranked swimmers and Canadian Swimming at large..

Last edited 2 years ago by Swim or Die
Admin
Reply to  Swim or Die
2 years ago

My personal opinion is that I’m ok with the top 20 – I think that that’s enough to pick the best team, though I do think it has negative ramifications on the ‘industry’ of swimming in the country.

But, I would’ve liked to have seen at least prelims-finals. Or I guess in this case, “Semis/finals”.

Hopeful
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Agree. Safety top priority and due to Covid it appears SNC is no longer hosting an Olympic trials to include swimmers for experience only during a global pandemic. Trials is essentially a selection time trial to be able to identify those swimmers who have the ability to go under FINA A time and top 2 in Canada. It would be beyond rare for any swimmer outside of top 20 to post a Fina A time, especially considering some events Canada will likely not qualify 2. If Covid improves by Feb 15th, SNC has documented will consider adding prelims & finals and really hope this happens.

Stop complaining
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

I am hopeful that they will add prelims and then finals. I would also hope that this would be a priority over inviting additional swimmers per event. Right now given the situation the priority should be on those swimmers who have the real potential to make the team.

BobbyJones
Reply to  Swim or Die
2 years ago

no one was consulted

Stop complaining
Reply to  BobbyJones
2 years ago

BobbyJones, I don’t know who your swimmer is but I can guarantee you that if they have not posted a top 20 time there is no way in hell they would make the team.

BobbyJones
Reply to  Stop complaining
1 year ago

Its not the case of my swimmer or not, its the problem of any swimmer!! You dont seem to understand the fact that a bunch of swimmers have stopped swimming cause of Covid, (I know and see at least 7 in the top 20 in 4 different events) so you get an invitation to go there cause you were top 20, 2 years ago… what prevents you from starting again for 4-5 months just to go to Trials one last time even though you were thinking of not going? But now its an invitation, less people… you tell yourself, I could do well or I could do crappy, but who cares, its Trials, why not one last time… Therefore taking… Read more »

Hopeful
Reply to  Stop complaining
1 year ago

Totally agree! SNC is not going to plan a trials around pretty much impossible exceptions making the team. SNC needs to plan around there top swimmers for podium potential. Full stop. I am surprised SNC did not just hand pick team and scrap Trials. Unfortunately Covid strikes again and opportunities missed – it sucks but reality. Anyone who expects SNC to plan Trials around participation & exceptions during a pandemic do not understand elite sport.

NJones
2 years ago

What’s your alternative plan?

BobbyJones
Reply to  NJones
2 years ago

In May… In June… Have it as a 3 weekend trial to have more swimmers… or at least have all swimmers get the chance to have some LC times in Jan and Feb… there is a bunch of possible scenarios to have a fair playing field for all!

Last edited 2 years ago by BobbyJones
BobbyJones
Reply to  NJones
2 years ago

Quebec pools have been closed for 80% of Swimmers since Oct 8!!!

10U DAD
2 years ago

I would be curious to learn how many times a swimmer outside the top 20 seeded has made the Olympic Team? Not only in Canada’s history, but for the US also.

Admin
Reply to  10U DAD
2 years ago

Ben Dornan is doing the search for Canada as we speak.

Lots of work has been done on the US. Here’s one analysis: https://swimswam.com/looking-back-20-years-us-olympic-trials-qualifying-standards/#comment-248913

Outside of relay slots, it’s exceedingly rare for anyone below even the 10th seed to earn an individual swim (Conor Dwyer did it in the 400 free). In Canada, the depth of the meet gets thin a lot quicker, so my suspicion is that this will be even more obvious there – I think we’ll find that it’s rare for anyone below a 7th or 8th seed to make the team. But…the data will show those answers soon! Stay tuned!

Here’s another: https://swimswam.com/a-look-at-the-options-for-adjusting-the-2021-u-s-olympic-trials-time-standards/

Lowest seeded swimmer in 2016 to even make a semi-final was 38th.

Stop complaining
Reply to  10U DAD
2 years ago

Never!!!! Ever!!!

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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