Swimming Australia has announced that they will not be sending teams to the 2021 FINA World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia nor the World Universiade Games in Chengdu, China. Instead, they will be hosting their top young athletes at a national competition to be held in Australia in August.
This meet will be the international benchmark event for Swimming Australia Pathway programs, allowing athletes to qualify for funding and junior national team programs.
Athletes will be selected for the team from the current selection criteria during the two events and will participate in a preparation camp in July, consistent with the lead in for an international competition.
The decision was made to protect athletes, coaches, and staff based on concerns about the ever-present COVID-19 virus and risks posed by international travel. Of the decision, Swimming Australia Cheif Strategist Alex Baumann said the following:
“We worked very closely with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Fricker to consider all risks, including the health and wellbeing of our athletes, coaches and staff, current government advice on international travel and parental concerns are given the age of the athletes involved,”
Given all those factors it was decided it was neither viable nor safe to travel overseas to compete with these teams.”
At the most recent World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest in 2019, Australia finished third in the medal table with 4 golds, two silvers, and 4 bronzes. Among those medalists for Australia was Lani Pallister who swept the distance events, taking gold in the 400/800/1500 freestyles. At 2019 WUGs, Australia placed 7th on the medal table for swimming with 1 gold, 1 silver, and 3 bronzes.
Australia’s early decision to not send a team to compete this summer reflects their situation to pull out of the 2020 Olympic Games before they had been canceled. Almost exactly a year ago today, Australia became one of the first countries to make the decision not to send athletes to Tokyo.
Swimming Australia will use the 2021 Australian Age Swimming Championships to be held in April and the June Australian Olympic Trials as selection meets for their own national meet at the end of the summer.
The 2012 World Junior Championships are still set to take place from August 24th – 29th in Russia while the 2021 Summer World University Games will go down between August 18th and August 29th. Both meets are still listed on the FINA and FISU websites’ schedules, respectively.
Having had its first major spike in coronavirus back in March 2020 and a second, larger wave in August, Australia has managed to keep a relatively low number of coronavirus cases over the past few months. According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science Engineering, the country reported only 16 cases and a 7-day average of 11 on March 17, 2021. To date, Australia has seen 29,153 cases of the virus, 25,486 recoveries and 909 deaths.