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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

2 heats (10 lane pool)

BobbyJones
Reply to  NC Fan
1 month ago

They could… they dont want

swimfin5
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

Mrs. Swimming
Reply to  Team BC
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

Exactly!!! Surprises could happen!

Canadian Swimmer
Reply to  Mrs. Swimming
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

Last edited 1 month ago by BobbyJones
BobbyJones
Reply to  BobbyJones
1 month ago

Why is Swim canada disliking my comment….

Admin
Reply to  BobbyJones
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

Exactly!! Unfair as hell

Disappointed swimmer
1 month ago

So very disappointing, Swim Canada! While swim meets are cautiously happening all around Europe, US, Asia etc., you are giving us THAT?! What’s the point for us to train now at all? Why didn’t you disclose your plans earlier and waited until all the registration fees are paid?
Given how Swim Canada dealt with this major meet, it would be safe to assume that we will not see anything good this year. It’s devastating for swimming in Canada

NJones
Reply to  Disappointed swimmer
1 month ago

What’s your alternative plan?

Disappointed swimmer
Reply to  NJones
1 month ago

June? In April, even those selected will not be in the same situation, as training environment varies greatly all through Canada for last 6 months and next 3 months. Some were able to train, some were stuck in areas with no single pool open. With a vaccine on the horizon, as Mike said below, it’s going to change and people will be able to catch up

BobbyJones
Reply to  Disappointed swimmer
1 month ago

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

BobbyJones
Reply to  NJones
1 month 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 1 month ago by BobbyJones
BobbyJones
Reply to  Disappointed swimmer
1 month 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
1 month ago

SwimCan thumbing down comments?

Stop complaining
Reply to  BobbyJones
1 month 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 month 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….

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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