India has annointed Sajan Prakash and Shivani Katariya to their 2016 Olympic squad, with both being entered by way of FINA’s Universality clause, also known as “wild-card” slots to assure representation for countries who don’t have athletes invited based on time standards.
Under FINA’s Olympic qualification rules, countries without invited athletes are allowed to enter up to 1 male and 1 female swimmer at the Olympic Games under a program called Universality. To be eligible, athletes must have competed in the previous year’s FINA World Aquatics Championships (in this case, the 2015 championships in Kazan, Russia).
While India had 5 male swimmers earn “B” cuts, because they had no swimmers hit the “A” standard they are eligible to enter 1 male and 1 female swimmer in 1 event each. Kataria’s selection as the female swimmer was their only choice, as she was the only female swimmer they sent to the World Championships last year. There she placed 67th in the 50 free (27.65) and 59th in the 100 free (58.76), but will race the 200 free in Rio.
While India had 5 choices for their men’s squad, they chose Prakash over breaststroker Sandeep Sejwal, who actually had a higher score in his best event based on FINA points. Prakash, however, had the highest finish at the World Championships (31st in the 200 fly), as well as “B” cuts in the 400 and 1500 free to boot. The 200 fly will be his entry for the Olympic Games, however.
Prakash and Katariya are both recipients of FINA scholarship that has allowed them to train in Phuket, Thailand with a designated training group made up of FINA scholarship recipients from countries of greatest need.