British Swimming’s Revised Olympic Selection Policy Fully Revealed

In March of this year, on the heels of British Swimming announcing a revised qualification time period for its British Summer Championships, the organization also revealed a portion of its new policy for 2020 Olympic Games qualification.

As we reported, a major point of revision was the fact that it is a 2-phase qualification process now, instead of just one Trials meet. This is due to the delay in the Olympic Games, as well as disruption in training and competitions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first phase of British Swimming’s Olympic qualification included pre-selection nomination of athletes based on their individual medal-winning performances at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. Qualified atheltes include Adam Peaty, James Wilby, Luke Greenbank and Duncan Scott.

Additionally, the second phase of nomination for selection for the 2020 Olympic Games will be based on performances during the FINA qualification window of March 1st, 2019 to June 29th, 2020.

The primary selection meet remains the British Championships set for April 13th-18th, although swimmers may also strive for qualification at the European Championships (May 17th-23rd), Glasgow International Swim Meet (May 28th-30th) Mare Nostrum – Canet (June 1st-2nd) and Mare Nostrum – Barcelona (June 5th-6th).

Athletes will be considered for Olympic selection, as long as they achieve a time inside or equal to Table 1 at the bottom of this post, in addition to placing 1st or 2nd at the British Championships or achieving the time in the A final at one of the aforementioned designated consideration meets.

Pay special attention to the word ‘considered’, as this heavily implies that there will be discretionary picks as there always have been when it comes to British Swimming’s Olympic team selection. In fact, as in 2016’s policy, there’s a paragraph dedicated to discretionary picks stating,

“The GB Head Coach in consultation with the NPD may nominate additional athletes for selection at their complete discretion subject to clause 4.1 at the conclusion of the 2021 British Championships confirmed on 21st April 2021. These nominations are for inclusion on to the team only, the GB Head Coach in consultation with the NPD will determine individual and relay event entries.”

In the event that the 2021 British Championships is cancelled, swimmers will be nominated for selection by the British Swimming Selection Panel.

Of note, the consideration standards published in this new policy are actually the original British Swimming Olympic Selection Policy’s ‘table 2’ times. 

In the original selection policy, as was the case in 2016, British Swimming set-up a tiered approach to qualification, with the top finisher in each individual event earning a roster spot as long as he/she meets or exceeds the stiff qualification time.

After that, a maximum of 8 additional nominations, up from 6 in 2016, were set to be made at the discretion of the National Performance Director and GB Head Coach, partly based on the outcome of times achieved in the then-table 2, whose consideration times were slower than the top tier.

You can review the original British Swimming 2020 Olympic Games selection policy here.

The revised Olympic selection policy can be read in its entirety here.

Overall, just 35 athletes at most will be selected to the British Swimming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games squad. With the aforementioned 5 already having qualified, that leaves just 30 athletes remaining.

British Swimming brought a roster of just 26 athletes to Rio 2016. Great Britain placed 6th in the overall swimming medal table at the 2016 Olympic Games, a finish representing their best in decades. The nation collected a total of 6 medals, including 1 gold, courtesy of Adam Peaty‘s then-World Record-setting 100m breaststroke victory.

Additional individual medals came from now-retired Jazz Carlin who took silver in both the women’s 400m and 800m free, while Siobhan-Marie O’Connor claimed silver in the 200m IM event.




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Willy Wonka
9 months ago

Absolutely bonkers. The only way to quarantee qualification is through an individual medal at 2019 Worlds, 2 years before the Olympics. Win at trials under the consideration time, well you might not get picked… Talk about corruption. Better hope your name has been hand picked onto the team list that BS has already written.

9 months ago

Wonder if they will still find a way to take Dan Wallace, could be more than 7 going for the 4×200 relay this time around!

9 months ago

Did not read the whole selection document, but glad that they are going with the easier times, maybe they will bring a bigger roster to the next Olympics even though it says max of 35 (vs USA 52 + Open Water)

Reply to  Dan
9 months ago

Below is a table with the events where the US have up to 2 swimmers with times faster then the original British selection times (done during the qualifying period starting March 1st, 2019).

USA Swimmers under the original tougher British selection times
With 2/event being maximum since no county can have more than 2 swimmers per event at the Olympics

Women Men
1 50 Free 1
2 100 Free 2
1 200 Free 0
2 400 Free 0
2 800 Free 0
2 1500 Free 0
2 100 Back 2
2 200 Back 2
2 100 Br 0
2 200 Br 0
1 100 Fly 2
2 200 Fly 1
2 200 IM 1
2 400 IM 2

9 months ago

British Swimming is the epitomy of corruption.

Big Reg
9 months ago

If Peaty and Wilby are both pre selected then does this mean that no one can qualify for the men’s 100 breast regardless of what time they swim at trials?

Thomas Selig
Reply to  Big Reg
9 months ago

From paragraph 5.1 in the revised policy, on pre-selected athletes. “This nomination will be to the team only. Event selections will be made by the GB Head Coach in consultation with the NPD”.

So no, just means Peaty and Wilby are on the team. Of course, if they’re on the team they need to swim but there’s mixed and men’s medley relay heats, plus 200 breast for Wilby as sensible options.

Overall I don’t mind the policy, provided it’s applied sensibly. I like the idea of extra consideration meets. To be honest I’m not sure the pre-selection is needed: only four swimmers who almost certainly would have met the consideration criteria anyway, so it doesn’t really do much… Read more »

9 months ago

In this case if you are a British 100 breaststroker and your name is not Peaty or Wilby you can retire now

Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

Seems a great way to discourage a young swimmer for sure. Even if these two are shoe-ins, it’s the giving the youngin’s a chance that makes all the difference.

9 months ago

Roughly in line with the Dutch. Clearly neither federation wants to send a swimmer who doesn’t have a real chance of making a semi final.

Have to wonder how they’ll get their next gem swimmers ready for the big stage like this. It’s a big jump from Euro Juniors to Oly finals…

Sapnu puas
9 months ago

The way im still bitter that they’ll refuse to take a 4×100 freestyle ladies team. I look forward to Moaning about this for the next few months

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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