French Qualifiers for Rio: Ranking the Possible Selections

SwimSwam thanks Robin Pla (@RobiinRoad), a reseacher with the Fédération Française de Natation, for his collaboration in the gathering and analysis of the data presented below.

We are three days into the six-day 2016 French Elite National Championships and Olympic Trials and France has only one official individual qualifier for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Coralie Balmy of Montpellier Métropole/Antibes went 4:05.38 in the 400 meter freestyle to punch the first Tricolor ticket to Rio.

Notwithstanding the many strong performances we’ve seen, much of the focus of the meet so far has been on the difficult time standards the French Federation (FFN) imposed on its swimmers last September. Note: We have written about it repeatedly over the last six months. If you haven’t been following the controversy, here are some recent articles: 

The FFN’s criteria for individual selection to the national team for the Olympic Games in Rio are as follows:

  1. Selection meet is to be 2016 Elite Nationals in Montpellier.
  2. Up to 2 athletes may be selected for each Olympic event, with a maximum of 26 men and 26 women.
  3. There athletes must meet the French time standards for each event, and there are rules in place for tie breaks.
  4. At the end of the meet, the National Technical Director (DTN) may add up to 6 men and 6 women, at his discretion, provided they have swum at or below FINA A qualifying times.

France qualified all its relays for Rio at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. The FFN will select for its relays the top four 100 and 200 freestylers provided that their add-up times meet the relay minimums. For the medley relay, in addition to meeting the add-up time standard, the four fastest individuals in each stroke must achieve FINA A cuts. Therefore, in addition to Balmy’s individual qualification, the top four 200 freestylers from Wednesday night’s final all qualify for the 800 free relay, at a minimum: Jérémy Stravius, Jordan Pothain, Yannick Agnel, and Lorys Bourelly.

The DTN has the authority to add up to 6 men and 6 women to the roster, and will base his decision the on the relative distance of each swim to the cut. In other words, the closer the swimmer’s time is to 100% of the time the French standard for Rio, the higher the swimmer’s chances of selection. In theory.

Below is a table that outlines those percentages. Scroll to the right to see the men’s table. The blue cells correspond to swims that meet France’s standards for Rio. The red cells are swims that are equal to or less than FINA A standards. You can also click on the tabs for Women and Men and sort the tables by name or by percentage.

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Crawler

The new selection system is a total disaster: only one swimmer so far has satisfied the minima. So what was supposed to be an objective selection process is likely to become the most subjective one in recent memory, with the majority of participants in individual events picked up by the DT ( effectively the Head of competitive swimming).

As for the Agnel affair, it is so weird that far out scenarios could be considered, such as wrong wiring, defective contact plates, even software error. I don’t buy the explanation of a 200 lbs sprinter hitting the plate like a feather. Furthermore, what did the timers’ stopwatches show?

Tom from Chicago

This hurts my heart. I hate when idiotic administrators destroy the dreams and hard work of athletes.

Hank

Agnel’s finish was poor. What was he thinking?

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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