Japan Continues Down Stiff Qualification Time Path For 2024 Olympic Games

The Japanese Swimming Federation has just released the selection criteria for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games set to be hosted in Paris, France and the qualifying times are indeed tough.

In most cases, the federation set the time standards equivalent to the average of what it took to place 10th across the recent editions of the World Championships as well as the 2020 Olympic Games.

The sole exception is the women’s 400m IM which sees its 4:38.53 QT equivalent to the World Aquatics Olympic Qualifying Time itself.

In the past, we’ve seen several of the JASF Olympic time standards exceed the current national records. This time around that happens in just two events, the men’s and women’s 800m free. The QT for men is set at 7:46.55, where the record stands at 7:49.55. For the women, the QT is 8:22.49 and the record on the books is 8:23.68.

In all cases, save the women’s 400m IM, the QTs are faster than each of the World Aquatics Olympic Qualifying Times for the events.

According to the JASF, the standards are truly meant to select those Japanese swimmers most likely to medal in each event, as opposed to just representing the nation by getting up on the blocks in the Olympics.

The sole qualifying competition at which swimmers can achieve these time standards is the 2024 Japanese Championships. Typically taking place in April each year, the 2024 edition has been moved to March.

Asian media reported that some Japanese coaches submitted a written opinion requesting that the selection criteria be relaxed. However, Managing Director Sayaka Muramatsu said, “The dispatch record is certainly high, but is necessary for today’s athletes.”

Japan suffered a disappointing showing at the home nation-hosted Olympic Games where they came away with just 3 medals. Yui Ohashi became a double gold medalist by topping the women’s 200m and 400m IM podiums while Tomoru Honda snagged silver in the men’s 200m fly.

More recently at this year’s World Championships, also in Japan, the nation reaped just two bronze medals, with Daiya Seto placing third in the men’s 400m IM while Honda also finished third in the men’s 200m butterfly. Japan’s goal entering the World Championships was to earn at least 5 medals.

In a Championships that saw an incredible ten World Records fall, no new Japanese national records were set and only four swimmers from the nation notched personal bests in their respective events. Swimmers on the whole were slower than the times they produced at the Japan Championships in April, the sole qualification meet for Fukuoka.

Individual Qualifying Times (see column III below) for Japanese Swimmers for 2024 Olympic Games

Relay Qualifying Times (see column III below) for Japanese Swimmers for 2024 Olympic Games

Comparison of JPN QTs Against World Aquatics OQTs in Individual Events

Men’s Event JPN 2024 OLY QT World Aquatics OQT Women’s Event JPN 2024 OLY QT World Aquatics OQT
50 Free 21.82 21.96 50 Free 24.55 24.7
100 Free 47.97 48.34 100 Free 53.12 53.61
200 Free 1;45.84 1:46.26 200 Free 1:56.55 1:57.26
400 Free 3;45.85 3:46.78 400 Free 4:05.34 4:07.90
800 Free 7:46.55 7:51.65 800 Free 8:22.49 8:26.71
1500 Free 14:56.31 15:00.99 1500 Free 15:59.92 16:09.09
100 Back 53.21 53.74 100 Back 59.49 59.99
200 Back 1:56.92 1:57.50 200 Back 2:08.65 2:10.39
100 Breast 59.26 59.49 100 Breast 1:06.47 1:06.79
200 Breast 2:08.48 2:09.68 200 Breast 2:23.31 2:23.91
100 Fly 51.43 51.67 100 Fly 57.34 57.92
200 Fly 1:55.27 1;55.78 200 Fly 2:07.95 2:08.43
200 IM 1:57.51 1:57.94 200 IM 2:10.70 2:11.47
400 IM 4:10.63 4:12.50 400 IM 4:38.53 4:38.53

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Noah Oliver Smith
8 months ago

Fantastic little idea for the old heads at JASF: Perhaps, maybe, you could make the cuts slower? This way your aging top guys, who are already at risk of not qualifying, don’t have to full taper for trails and can actually compete for medals like you want them to? and maybe this let’s a breakout star qualify as well and rise to the occasion at the games? No my bad JASF is already aware that every Japanese swimmer tanks at any international competition with even the slightest bit of pressure because they were force to full taper for a meet that really shouldn’t be as difficult as it is. No need to slow the cuts down that much – maybe… Read more »

Noah Oliver Smith
8 months ago

Japan swimming needs a culture change. Being stuck in the Kitajima/Hagino era of sticking to policies and approaches to training and racing is clearly not making them any better. The world has progressed and we have stayed the same, only now we are exposed as we have aging stars and no top talent on the men’s side. JASF needs flexibility, or at least to look West and see what guys in Europe or the US are doing. Worked pretty well for China.

8 months ago

Is this just a budget / money concern? They say they want to focus on winning medals, but you statistically lower your chances for medals by bringing less athletes, losing out on a potential “swim of a lifetime”, not to mention relay support.

Does anyone have a look behind the scenes? What they’re saying just doesn’t make sense. Are they just tight on money?

Noah Oliver Smith
Reply to  Eouai
8 months ago

JASF’s board is stuck in the old era and adamant against adapting and changing to what swimming has become now. Money could come into play, but the main reason would likely be that they have a persistence on “doing it their way”. This is the same reason earlier in the year they didn’t let their swimmers travel internationally to compete or train.

JASF thinks by maintaining high standards it will push swimmers towards excellence, but instead it is causing Japan to miss out on opportunities to have breakout stars as seen in the US. I thought it would take tanking at Tokyo olympics and Fukuoka for them to realize it’s time to change, but clearly we need more national… Read more »

Lisa Simpson
8 months ago

Japanese swimmers peak in order to qualify.

Reply to  Lisa Simpson
8 months ago

That seems to be the trend. Whatever the plan is, it clearly isn’t working.

8 months ago

Even making the standards won’t guarantee you a spot on the Olympic Team. Just ask Suzu Chiba, who was a bonafide medal possibility. She finished 1999 ranked #2 in the world in the 200 free in a time that would have won bronze in Sydney. She also made the JASF standard at Olympic Trials in the 200 free WHILE RUNNING A FEVER, and they still left her off the team.


Last edited 8 months ago by Aquajosh
The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  Aquajosh
8 months ago

Wow. That is so bad.

Jason Jay
8 months ago

Maybe the reason they suck at worlds is because they heavy taper for trials?

8 months ago

Japanese athletes have been missing their taper at major meets recently and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Stuff like this where it forces the athletes to be 100% at trails definitely doesn’t help.

Reply to  Tencor
8 months ago

I think that’s part of the mentality of moving trials a month earlier

Reply to  Tencor
8 months ago

Yeah, I hope they realize soon that the problem is not “these athletes don’t have enough pressure on them.”

I guess if the hammer isn’t working, get a bigger hammer.

Scuncan Dott v2
8 months ago

British Swimmimg also released their selection policy, still ridiculous qualification times in most events:


Reply to  Scuncan Dott v2
8 months ago

Doesn’t make too much sense especially since they are only 200 miles away from Paris

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  PFA
8 months ago

Like that stops them. The standards are actually a fraction slower than in the past / what Japan set so that is something.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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