Is Nic Fink Actually Eligible to Swim the 100 IM at Short Course Worlds?

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 24

October 29th, 2021 News

When it comes to the Olympics, most of the world becomes hyper-focused on Olympic “A” cuts, Olympic “B” cuts, and which meets those cuts can be swum at.

But when it comes to meets like the World Short Course Swimming Championships, we sometimes forget about those details, just accepting the rosters as they are.

But with the rise of the International Swimming League, it turns out that those things might come more into focus, afterall. And this may wind up biting the U.S. Short Course World Championships roster, and specifically Nic Fink.

Short Course Worlds Qualifying System

The Short Course World Championships qualifying system is very similar to the Olympics. There is a set of “A” standards, which is the faster of the qualifying times from 2018 Worlds or the 16th place time from SC Worlds in 2018, and a set of “B” standards, which are 3.5% slower than the A times.

There are also long course qualifying times, even though the meet is held in short course meters, which are based on 2019 World Championship standards/16th place times.

The qualifying period is December 1, 2019 through November 28, 2021.

Much like the Olympics, nations can send two swimmers with an “A” cut, or one swimmer with an “A” cut or a “B” cut. To send two swimmers in an event, they would need two with an “A” cut.

Those standards must be at an event approved by FINA as an “International Competition” or a “National Competition.” Those meets must be submitted and approved ahead of time.

The Problem Created

We’ve seen a lot of swimmers this fall, and last fall, who have had huge short course meters breakouts at meets during the International Swimming League season. Coleman Stewart, for example, set a World Record in the ISL regular season in the men’s 100 back, and Ingrid Wilm set a Canadian Record in the women’s 100 back.

The problem is that the ISL never applied to have these meets approved as World Championship qualifying competitions. This doesn’t mean that FINA isn’t accepting the times. Unlike the conflict in season 1 of the ISL, these meets, sanctioned by the host-nation swimming federation, are considered legitimate meets, and FINA says they would ratify, for example, Stewart’s World Record once they receive the relevant documents (which have apparently not been submitted yet).

But, that sanction by the Italian federation is not the same as applying as a Short Course World Championships qualifying event.

That doesn’t necessarily impact Stewart, because his long course time in the 100 backstroke from the US Olympic Trials was 53.91, which is faster than the long course qualifying “A” standard of 54.03. The US Olympic Trials were a FINA qualifying competition for Short Course Worlds.

Wilm, too, has an “A” cut in long course from the Canadian Olympic Trials, which were an official qualifying meet for Short Course Worlds.

In both of those cases, it is domestic selection procedures that have kept them out of the meet.

The 2020 ISL competitions were approved Short Course World Championships qualifiers. That means while, for example, Beata Nelson’s American Record in the 100 IM from this ISL season doesn’t count, her 58.03 from last season would qualify as an “A” standard.

Where this is most likely to crop up is in 100 IM entries. Because there is no long course equivalent, top swimmers can’t sneak under the cut times based on the long course standards. For example, the US couldn’t have entered Carson Foster, who is swimming the 200 IM and 400 IM, in the 100 IM, because he has no official swims in that event, and so he is not eligible.

But more specifically, Fink, who is entered in the 100 IM (alongside 2018 World SC Champion in the event Michael Andrew), doesn’t appear to actually be eligible to swim the event.

Fink swam 52.55 at ISL Match #6 this season – a swim that doesn’t count because it’s not a World Short Course Championships qualifying event. He also swam the race at a bunch of meets in 2018 and 2017, but those are outside of the qualifying period.

SwimSwam was unable to find any other 100 IM swims for Fink, in the ISL or otherwise.

The ISL Playoffs that start in mid-November are also not on the FINA qualification meet list, and FINA’s own rules say that there was a December 2020 deadline to apply for status for meets in the 2021 calendar year.

That means Fink would have to pop in to some other qualification meet, probably in Europe, and swim a 100 IM to hit the “A” standard. The cut is only 53.57, which is a time he can hit without any problems.

All of this adds up to a lot of confusion over qualification procedures. The system of qualification meets are in place because of the need to ensure and monitor proper international standards are met – and that need was highlighted with the Uzbekistan falsified times debacle prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

But as the world of swimming becomes more complicated, we’re starting to see more wrinkles and confusion over the selection procedures.

SwimSwam reached out to USA Swimming and Nic Fink, but neither have responded as of posting.

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1 year ago

anybody can read the selection criteterias, amirite, so this should not be suprise to anyone.

1 year ago

Why couldnt the US have just held sc worlds trials…

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Dylan
1 year ago

Due to COVID rearranging schedules greatly, methinks there would be too many meets. No WC in 2021 due to OLY being pushed into this year, & then doing a SCM Worlds too.

Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
1 year ago

Before Covid, there was a SCM World Trials on the quad plan instead of the traditional US Open. I think that went away because LCM Worlds were moved to the spring.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Coach
1 year ago


1 year ago

Well let me solve the problem. Every top 15 swim country can enter up to 2 swimmers in every event. Time standards don’t apply. If they want to enter a 3rd swimmer than they need a qualifying time. Can’t we just trust the top tier countries to send good/contending swimmers to the meet? Its not like there is 100+ swimmers entered in every event.

1 year ago

Swimming and boxing are the same, an organizational mess

Scotty P
Reply to  Breezeway
1 year ago


However, we don’t have Jake Paul trolling the sport.

Reply to  Scotty P
1 year ago

No, just Cody Simpson.

I’m kidding, I know Cody’s legit.

1 year ago

..and the other shoe drops…

1 year ago

LOL at the picture caption with the word “(foreground)”. If that wasn’t there it would have been very difficult to tell which one was Fink.

Neptunian Merman
Reply to  Meeeeee
1 year ago

it might be for the sight impaired

I win, you lose
1 year ago

So swimmers can qualify for the 100IM in short course, but for every other event they have to qualify in long course. But even if they qualify in short course, there’s a good chance of it “not counting” because FINA seems to think ISL is still illegitimate in its 3rd season. I wish they had just cancelled worlds and waited til 2022.

Reply to  I win, you lose
1 year ago

For every event other than the 100IM they can qualify through either long course or short course times.

100IM is the outlier for obvious reasons

1 year ago

USA Swimming is so incompetent sometimes

Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

But they get paid very well.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

It’s sloppy – USAS has not really adapted well yet to the new reality about SCM being more consistently on the agenda of late, in part thanks to ISL.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
1 year ago

Just re-read my comment & want to clarify: SCM is on the agenda a lot more because of ISL, NOT that USAS has not adapted really well yet because of ISL. Could have word-smithed it better earlier.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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