The month of October usually brings the publishing of the British Swimming team selection policies for the coming season. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has decided to take extra time to review the selection process.
The Performance Leadership Group (PLG) will now refrain on publishing selection policies until December 2020 for the following competitions:
- 2021 Olympic Games (in consultation with the British Olympic Association)
- 2021 European Championships
- 2021 European Open Water Championships
- 2021 European Junior Championships
- 2021 European Junior Open Water Championships
- 2021 World Junior Championships
- 2021 World Junior Open Water Championships
- 2021 World University Games (in consultation with British Universities and Colleges Sport)
Of note, the actual time standards, team sizes and other typical information aren’t the only items being considered in the 2020/21 process. The PLG says it reserves the right not to even send teams to all of the above events in 2021 due to the ongoing logistical challenges related to the pandemic.
Great Britain is a veritable swimming powerhouse who last year sent a robust roster of 25 athletes to the FINA World Aquatic Championships, finishing 7th in the overall medal table. Before that, the nation finished 2nd overall at the 2018 European Championships.
As such, if Great Britain is having potential difficulty sending athletes to the aforementioned list of competitions, smaller nations with less depth of talent most likely are also hurting due to the pandemic and the financial, logistical and societal issues it brings.
In the past, British Swimming has taken some heat regarding how stiff it sets it qualification times for elite international competitions. For example, the original Tokyo selection policy had its auto-qualification times ranging from 1.3-2.0% faster than the FINA ‘A’ standard, with several marks sitting inside of the British National Record for the event.
Critics of the stiff time standards claim that British Swimming simply sets the bar nearly impossibly high in order to wind up hand-selecting who it wants to appear on its rosters anyway.