According to the open-water website Open Water Source, FINA has officially replaced Kane Radford in the open water 10km race at the London Olympics after the New Zealand Olympic Committee declined the bid that he earned three weeks ago in Setubal, Portugal.
New Zealand’s top open water swimmers, Radford and Cara Baker, both earned their way into the meet by the continental quota bids – meaning that they were the fastest swimmers from the Oceania “continent” at the last-chance open water qualifying race. But the New Zealand Olympic Committee had other ideas, proclaiming that they wanted their athletes to be invited based on a top-9 finish, rather than just being the quota recipients.
With Australia having already earned their open water bids at last year’s World Championships, and therefore not being entered in the races in Portugal, that left New Zealand as the continental reps almost by default.
Now Radford has been replaced by the only other open water swimmer: Benjamin Schulte. The young 16-year old from Guam is one of the best swimmers ever from his country, but he’s still by-far the youngest swimmer in this Olympic field and finished 15 minutes behind the winners of the race. He has a brilliant future, and is owed a world of congratulations on making the Olympics, but will likely be swimming alone for most of the 10km race at the Olympics. The next-slowest competitor to make the field was still 10-minutes (roughly a mile in distance) ahead of Schulte.
No decision has been rendered on Baker, but her situation is significantly more complicated for FINA. New Zealand was the only Oceanic country to enter the open water qualifier, and the rules don’t clearly define who gets that spot. It would seem that the Netherlands’ Linsy Hester gets that spot, but her federation isn’t sure they want it either. The next after her is Mexico’s Lizeth Ruedo, who was 19th.