Final Olympic Relay Qualification Standings

Monday was the final day for countries to qualify relays for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Sixteen teams qualify in each relay: the top twelve times from prelims at the 2019 FINA World Championships have already secured automatic qualification for Tokyo. There are four “Wildcard” slots for the next four fastest teams during the qualification period.

SwimSwam has been tracking the competition for the Wildcard positions since last year and have monitored the changes to the rankings throughout the spring and the end of qualifying. 

Some notes regarding the qualification process:

  • If any of the top 12 teams from the World Championships, or any of the next 4 best teams during the selection period, decline their spot, then the next-fastest team during the selection period goes. So, if a top-12 team at the World Championships declines their spot, it’s not necessarily the 13th team from the World Championships that is selected.
  • Each NOC gets additional relay-only athletes, but those athletes must have hit the OST/”B” standard for the corresponding stroke and distance of the relay in which they are entered. So, if a swimmer is racing the breaststroke leg of the medley relay, that swimmer must have at least a “B” cut in the 100 breaststroke, if they are a relay only swimmer. If that breaststroker on the medley relay has no cut in the 100 breaststroke but is swimming, say, the 1500 free, they’re still eligible for the relay.
  • Countries must confirm their participation in a relay no later than June 11th, 2021 and must confirm their relay-only athletes by no later than June 27th, 2021.
  • No ‘aggregate relay times,’ the relay must actually be raced to be considered.

There can still be changes to the teams that swim in Tokyo depending on the above scenarios. We should have an accurate competition field next week once the participation deadline passes.

Teams on the SwimSwam rankings that have qualified automatically are listed with their times from the 2019 World Championships. There are some anomalies in the rankings; for example, China set a world record in the 400 mixed medley relay last year but did not earn an automatic qualifying spot and therefore hold the first Wildcard in that event. 

Women’s 400 Free Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 Australia 3:30.21
Worlds #2 United States 3:31.02
Worlds #3 Canada 3:31.78
Worlds #4 Netherlands 3:35.32
Worlds #5 China 3:35.83
Worlds #6 Sweden 3:36.33
Worlds #7 Japan 3:36.79
Worlds #8 Germany 3:39.07
Worlds #9 Russia 3:38.94
Worlds #10 Hong Kong 3:40.40
Worlds #11 Czech Republic 3:40.78
Worlds #12 Poland 3:41.01
Wildcard #1 Great Britain 3:34.17
Wildcard #2 France 3:35.64
Wildcard #3 Denmark 3:36.81
Wildcard #4 Brazil 3:38.59
Out #1 Italy 3:39.08
Out #2 Slovenia 3:39.61
Out #3 South Africa 3:40.29
Out #4 Hungary 3:40.62

Great Britain set a new national record time of 3:34.17 at the recent European Championships to vault to the top of the Wildcard rankings. Their time should put them into the Finals at Tokyo. Behind Great Britain are France, Denmark, and Brazil all in qualifying positions. Italy would be the next team in if one of the teams ahead in the rankings do not choose to participate. 

Women’s 800 Free Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 Australia 7:41.50
Worlds #2 United States 7:41.87
Worlds #3 Canada 7:44.35
Worlds #4 China 7:46.22
Worlds #5 Russia 7:48.25
Worlds #6 Hungary 7:54.57
Worlds #7 Germany 7:55.63
Worlds #8 Japan 7:56.31
Worlds #9 Poland 8:01.70
Worlds #10 New Zealand 8:03.28
Worlds #11 Hong Kong 8:04.98
Worlds #12 South Korea 8:08.38
Wildcard #1 Great Britain 7:53.15
Wildcard #2 Italy 7:56.72
Wildcard #3 France 7:59.45
Wildcard #4 Israel 8:00.51
Out #1 Brazil 8:00.92
Out #2 Denmark 8:01.33
Out #3 Belgium 8:01.73
Out #4 Turkey 8:02.76

Great Britain leads the field of four European Wildcard countries with their victory at last month’s Euros. Italy and France both come in under the 8:00 mark and Israel is holding down the last Wildcard spot. As we noted during Euros, Israel has one swimmer who has not met an individual B standard and may not have enough swimmers to field the relay. This would open the door for Brazil to swim in Tokyo.

Women’s 400 Medley Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 United States 3:50.40
Worlds #2 Australia 3:53.42
Worlds #3 Canada 3:53.58
Worlds #4 Italy 3:56.50
Worlds #5 China 3:57.11
Worlds #6 Japan 3:58.14
Worlds #7 Sweden 3:58.39
Worlds #8 Great Britain 3:59.38
Worlds #9 Germany 4:00.91
Worlds #10 Netherlands 4:01.42
Worlds #11 Switzerland 4:01.85
Worlds #12 Russia 4:02.26
Wildcard #1 Belarus 4:00.37
Wildcard #2 Finland 4:01.66
Wildcard #3 Hong Kong 4:01.77
Wildcard #4 South Africa 4:01.92
Out #1 Denmark 4:01.97
Out #2 Spain 4:02.38
Out #3 France 4:02.43
Out #4 Poland 4:02.63

The scheduling of Euros shortly before the close of the qualifying period was a benefit to the European teams. Belarus and Finland took advantage of this to be the first two Wildcard teams. Belarus, specifically, broke their national record twice at Euros. Hong Kong moved  into the third Wildcard position on the penultimate day of qualifying. South Africa, who led the Wildcard standings prior to Euros, managed to hold onto a Wildcard spot by .05 ahead of Denmark.  

Men’s 400 Free Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 United States 3:09.06
Worlds #2 Russia 3:09.97
Worlds #3 Australia 3:11.22
Worlds #4 Italy 3:11.39
Worlds #5 Great Britain 3:11.81
Worlds #6 Brazil 3:11.99
Worlds #7 Hungary 3:12.85
Worlds #8 France 3:13.34
Worlds #9 Japan 3:14.16
Worlds #10 Greece 3:14.44
Worlds #11 Germany 3:14.58
Worlds #12 Poland 3:14.78
Wildcard #1 Canada 3:13.09
Wildcard #2 Switzerland 3:13.41
Wildcard #3 Serbia 3:13.73
Wildcard #4 Netherlands 3:13.79
Out #1 Belgium 3:15.34
Out #2 Sweden 3:15.83
Out #3 China 3:16.23
Out #4 Ukraine 3:16.24

Canada were the Wildcard leaders leading up to Euros. Switzerland, Serbia, and the Netherlands all overtook the Canadians during Euros pushing them down into the fourth position after Euros. The Canadians decided to time trial the event last week to improve their seeded, dropping over two seconds to move back into the top position

Men’s 800 Free Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 Australia 7:00.85
Worlds #2 Russia 7:01.81
Worlds #3 United States 7:01.98
Worlds #4 Italy 7:02.01
Worlds #5 Great Britain 7:02.04
Worlds #6 China 7:04.74
Worlds #7 Brazil 7:07.64
Worlds #8 Germany 7:07.65
Worlds #9 Japan 7:09.23
Worlds #10 Israel 7:11.99
Worlds #11 Poland 7:12.01
Worlds #12 Switzerland 7:12.08
Wildcard #1 France 7:07.24
Wildcard #2 Hungary 7:07.67
Wildcard #3 South Korea 7:11.45
Wildcard #4 Ireland 7:12.00
Out #1 Belgium 7:12.99
Out #2 New Zealand 7:13.06
Out #3 Spain 7:13.08
Out #4 Canada 7:14.01

France made the biggest move in the 800 free relay during Euros as they moved up to the second Wildcard after prelims before overtaking Hungary for the top spot in finals. South Korea swam a 7:11.45 this spring to move into the third Wildcard and the Irish set an Irish record at Euros to hold onto the fourth Wildcard.

Men’s 400 Medley Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 Great Britain 3:28.10
Worlds #2 United States 3:28.45
Worlds #3 Russia 3:28.81
Worlds #4 Japan 3:30.35
Worlds #5 Australia 3:30.42
Worlds #6 Brazil 3:30.86
Worlds #7 China 3:31.61
Worlds #8 Germany 3:32.86
Worlds #9 Belarus 3:34.56
Worlds #10 Canada 3:34.79
Worlds #11 Lithuania 3:34.88
Worlds #12 Hungary 3:35.11
Wildcard #1 Italy 3:29.93
Wildcard #2 France 3:32.50
Wildcard #3 Poland 3:32.82
Wildcard #4 Greece 3:34.61
Out #1 Ireland 3:34.62
Out #2 Sweden 3:36.16
Out #3 South Korea 3:36.53
Out #4 Austria 3:36.62

The Wildcard standings in the 400 medley relay have been dominated by European teams. Italy, France, Poland, and Ireland were all competing for spots at Euros with the Italians coming out on top. Ireland held onto the fourth Wildcard until they were overtaken by Greece by .01 seconds with only a few days left in qualifying.  

Mixed 400 Medley Relay

Rank Country Time
Worlds #1 Australia 3:39.08
Worlds #2 United States 3:39.10
Worlds #3 Great Britain 3:40.68
Worlds #4 Russia 3:40.78
Worlds #5 Canada 3:43.06
Worlds #6 Italy 3:43.28
Worlds #7 Germany 3:45.07
Worlds #8 Netherlands DQ/3:44.67 (prelims)
Worlds #9 Belarus 3:45.88
Worlds #10 Israel 3:48.06
Worlds #11 Poland 3:48.21
Worlds #12 Hungary 3:48.44
Wildcard #1 China 3:38.41
Wildcard #2 Japan 3:44.75
Wildcard #3 Greece 3:45.38
Wildcard #4 Brazil 3:45.51
Out #1 Switzerland 3:46.16
Out #2 France 3:46.39
Out #3 Spain 3:46.60
Out #4 South Korea 3:47.92

China did not secure an automatic qualifying spot at 2019 Worlds; this did not deter them as they went out and set the world record in the event last year. This meant that for all intents and purposes, teams were competing for three Wildcard spots. Japan and Brazil both held the second and third Wildcards through Euros. Switzerland moved up into the fourth Wildcard at Euros before being bumped out by Greece on Sunday

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Pulford
1 year ago

South Africa is fielding a 4 x 200 free relay at Tokyo but the rankings above don’t have them qualifying, but they have 2 swimmers who are relay only swimmers in the 4 x 200 free.

Reply to  Michael Pulford
1 year ago

South Africa was 21st on the qualification ranking. 5 countries in the top-20 will not participate.

1 year ago

Italy has the 4th fastest times in all the men’s relays.

So close to the podium. But who are they going to topple for a medal.

They might as well try to cut it close on the exchanges. Because with 4th you get nothing just like a DQ.

Reply to  Marklewis
1 year ago

You know that if you include all times of this cycle it would change a bit? Cause top 12 are just times from 2019 worlds, even if they went faster is not here

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

Forgot to set it to only show the fastest time for each country/region/team (so some of these relays should still be ignored):

Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

You know the cycle started on 2017 right? Or you think italy is ahead of GBR on 4×200?

Last edited 1 year ago by Rafael
Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 year ago

29 countries will have at least 1 relay at the games. 6 nations will have a relay team in all 7 events (Japan, Germany, USA, Australia, UK, Russia).

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 year ago

So weird to see the bronze medal-winning Women’s 400 Medley Relay nation from 2016 sitting on the sidelines just one cycle later.

1 year ago

So there’s no mixed 4 free relay

Reply to  MX4x50relay
1 year ago


1 year ago

South korea and Hong Kong does not have enough swimmers for 800 free women relay as today times also.

Some 400 free women have the same isso such as poland

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

I still stand by my interpretation of the FINA document that the B-cut minimum applies to additional relay swimmers (sometimes referred to as alternates) ex. swimmer #5 and #6.

Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

I was on that same boat until I realized that if the B-cut minimum only applies to alternates then an NOC could in theory sign up a swimmer without at least an OST.

I do think that FINA would “automatically” extend an OST invitation to B athletes on relays and that the “additional relay only athletes” are the so called alternates.

Last edited 1 year ago by Riggatoni
Reply to  Riggatoni
1 year ago

What I believe is that FINA will let the countries enter the relays they have qualified in and the 4 swimmers used/available, but if a country wants to send a 5th or 6th person, they need to have at least a B-cut.
Will be interesting to see what FINA actually does with regards to these relays.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dan
Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

Well, Poland apparently found out the hard way what FINA actually meant to say. As Riggatoni already pointed it, it would not make much sense to have a requirement that should be met by swimmer #5 and #6, whereas there would be no requirement for swimmers #1 to #4.

I think the text of the FINA document is clear: the requirement applies to all relay-only swimmers. The text in the document speaks of ‘additional athletes for relays only’ as opposed to ‘athletes entered in individual events’ . The documents also explicitly states that ‘additional athletes for relays only’ = ‘Relay-Only-Athletes’.
It doesn’t get clearer than that.

1 year ago

It does not matter too much since the relay teams are the same but the selection of the first 12 teams was done based on the prelim results, not the finals results of the 2019 World Champs.

Joris Bohnson
1 year ago

The australians are a big threat on the relays

Reply to  Joris Bohnson
1 year ago

the Russians as well

Reply to  Joris Bohnson
1 year ago

Threat for gold in 4 of the 7.