Great Britain, Switzerland Jump to Top Wildcard Spots in 400 Free Relay


The first day of swimming action at the 2021 European Championships saw teams competing for one of the four coveted Wildcard spots in the 400 free relay for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

As a reminder, the top 12 teams from prelims at the 2019 FINA World Championships have already automatically qualified for Tokyo. There are four “Wildcard” spots left for the four fastest teams during the qualification period which runs through May 31, 2021. Teams can decline an invite, leaving a spot for the next fastest team.

Editor’s note: FINA doesn’t officially publish an up-to-date ranking for relay qualifying, so we’ve done our best to compile the current rankings manually.

Women’s 400 Free Relay

Coming into the European Championships, France led the Wildcard standings followed by Brazil, Denmark, and Singapore

Rank Pre-Euros
Wildcard #1 France 3:35.64
Wildcard #2 Brazil 3:38.59
Wildcard #3 Denmark 3:38.87
Wildcard #4 Singapore 3:40.92
Out #1 Switzerland 3:41.30
Out #2 Israel 3:41.61
Out #3 Italy 3:41.84
Out #4 South Korea 3:42.58

The country notably absent from this list was Great Britain, who would waste no time to make a statement in this relay. The British used a 3:39.08 swim in prelims to jump into the fourth Wildcard spot. Slovenia joined in the fun, dropping their national record by over eight seconds to vault into the first “Out” position. Italy dropped nearly two seconds from their previous time to move up one spot into the second “Out” position.

Rank After Prelims
Wildcard #1 France 3:35.64
Wildcard #2 Brazil 3:38.59
Wildcard #3 Denmark 3:38.87
Wildcard #4 Great Britain 3:39.08
Out #1 Slovenia 3:39.61
Out #2 Italy 3:39.91
Out #3 Hungary 3:40.62
Out #4 Singapore 3:40.92

Finals saw a tight race between Great Britain and the Netherlands with the British reigning supreme by winning the 400 free relay for the first time in nearly a century with a new British record of 3:34.17. This moves the British to the top of the Wildcard spots by over 1.5 seconds.

The Danish team of Signe Bro, Jeanette Ottesen, Julie Kepp Jensen, and Pernille Blume set a new national record of 3:36.81 and took two seconds off of their previous time to maintain their position as the third Wildcard. While Italy was able to improve upon their prelims swim, they are still .49 seconds behind Brazil for the fourth Wildcard spot.

The full standings for the women’s 400 free relay are as follows:

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 3:34.07
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 Hungary 3:40.62
Out #4 Singapore 3:40.92

Men’s 400 Free Relay

The Canadian men held the top spot in the men’s 400 free relay followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Serbia in the Wildcard positions:

Rank Pre-Euros
Wildcard #1 Canada 3:15.06
Wildcard #2 Belgium 3:15.34
Wildcard #3 Netherlands 3:15.54
Wildcard #4 Serbia 3:15.72
Out #1 China 3:16.23
Out #2 Ukraine 3:16.24
Out #3 Singapore 3:16.82
Out #4 Switzerland 3:16.85

Prelims saw Serbia set a national record to qualify in second place ahead of Finals and move up to the first Wildcard spot. Switzerland, who was over a second out of a Wildcard spot, dropped over two seconds to move up six spots in the rankings. The Netherlands improved their time but due to the success of Serbia and Switzerland, maintained their rank in the third position. Sweden was able to move into the second “Out” position but as they qualified ninth in prelims, they would not have a chance to improve their time in Finals:

Rank After Prelims
Wildcard #1 Serbia 3:13.91
Wildcard #2 Switzerland 3:14.75
Wildcard #3 Netherlands 3:14.80
Wildcard #4 Canada 3:15.06
Out #1 Belgium 3:15.34
Out #2 Sweden 3:15.83
Out #3 China 3:16.23
Out #4 Ukraine 3:16.24

Switzerland, Serbia, and the Netherlands would finish 6-7-8 in Finals tonight and in the process all three countries would set new national records in this relay. After the splashing had subsided, the Swiss now lead the Wildcard standings, followed by Serbia and the Netherlands with all three teams separated by .38 seconds. Canada, who came into today leading the Wildcard position, has slipped down to fourth ahead of their rescheduled Olympic trials.

Country Rank 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 Switzerland 3:13.41
Wildcard #2 Serbia 3:13.73
Wildcard #3 Netherlands 3:13.79
Wildcard #4 Canada 3:15.06
Out #1 Belgium 3:15.34
Out #2 Sweden 3:15.83
Out #3 China 3:16.23
Out #4 Ukraine 3:16.24

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1 year ago

Looks like a bad Photoshop job.

1 year ago

Wow!Freya looks like a “mother and her 3 kids…”.She is really tall.

Reply to  DDias
1 year ago

Lol D I don’t know what that expression means in Brazil, but that is definitely not a common figure of speech in English.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

comment image
Don’t tell her…

1 year ago

Probable finalists and cut time (My expectation):

Women side: Australia, USA, Canada, Netherland, China, GBR, France are in. Last spot would be Sweden but Sjostrom is a question mark, so Denmark would be in probably. Cut time around 3:37 flat

Men side: USA, Russia, GBR, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Hungary then Japan, France or Greece, Cut around 3:13 flat.

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

I think that the teams for finals are more or less as listed, but I believe last time will be faster, not by much, a second or so.

Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

I checked the whole cycle and on men side only 8 teams went faster than 3:13 at least once.
USA, Russia, Brazil, Australia, italy, GBR, Hungary and japan sub 3:13.. no one else broke 3:13
Even counting this competition we have 6 more teams who went sub 3:14 and one is China
I am betting pretty high already

Women side we have 10 sub 3:37 but i dont see japan and sweden doing that without a 100% Ikee and Sjostrom
After Aus, Usa, Canada, netherlands, GBR, france, China, Japan, Sweden and Denmark no one broke even 3:38

Last edited 1 year ago by Rafael
1 year ago

The canadian guys must be calm now after their re-schedule of Trials..

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

They just time trialed a 313 low…so they are goooooood…..