In the second bit of quirkiness surrounding the 2012 British Olympic Trials, the British Swimming Association (in conjunction with the British Olympic Association) has decided to allow a two-meet qualifying system for the 2012 London Olympics. This follows the announcement that the “2012 Olympic Trials” meet will be open to swimmers of all nations as an official test event for the newly-constructed London Aquatics Centre.
The first meet will be the aforementioned officially labeled 2012 Olympic Trials, though the other meet has not been announced. This bi-meet qualifying system is one that the Brits have employed for the past few years; their first qualifying for this summer’s World Championships were very early in the season (one of the first big National Championship meets of the year), and their second will come at the British Gas ASA National Championships in June. British head coach Dennis Pursley is a big proponent of this system, and has installed it as a regular occurance in the British schedule.
In an opposing side of the same brainwave, USA Swimming announced its 2011-2012 Junior National Team selection procedure that would limit qualifying to a single meet (the ConocoPhillips senior National Championships) after a heated debate since last summer’s multi-meet qualifying procedure.
There are two sides to this argument. Obviously, British swimming isn’t of the same strength as other powerhouse countries, like the Americans. This is perhaps the theory which drives this decision: with FINA qualifying standards in place, British swimming needs as many opportunities as they can get to earn their full two entries in each individual event. This also allows for the flexibility of coaches who might have different ideas of how to construct a perfect training cycle, and give them two choices for when to earn their qualifying marks.
But at the same time, there’s a certain majesty and excitement surrounding an Olympic Trials meet. A two meet system like this will struggle to attract the same casual audience as a single event like the US Olympic Trials do. If it were guaranteed that all swimmers were going to be at their best at both meets (in sort of a two-leg system that the Brits are quite familiar with from soccer), that would be a different story. However the fact is that most swimmers are likely to only be at peak performance at one meet or the other, which sucks a lot of the buzz out of the meet.
Check out our new poll question at the right, and vote for which system you prefer, and as always, leave your more expansive opinions below.