2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
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Honduran swimmer Julimar Avila Mancia has become the first-ever Universality swimmer and the first-ever Honduras swimmer to advance out of the preliminary rounds of the Olympic Games after placing 16th in the 200 fly.
She swam a 2:15.36 in the heats, which broke the National Record set by Michell Ramirez in June of 2021 in the event. Though Ramirez had a better time than Avila, Ramirez’s swim came after the Universality application deadline, and Avila had the faster time as of June 21, when Universality nominations were due.
Avila made the most of her opportunity, taking over 3 seconds off her entry time of 2:18.38 and almost 2 full seconds off Ramirez’s Honduras Record.
While Avila was still 3 seconds behind the 15th qualifier, former University of Texas swimmer Remedy Rule (2:12.23), because Katinka Hosszu no-showed the event, there were only 16 entries. FINA never responded to whether they would hold preliminary rounds with only 16 swimmers, but Hosszu’s late decision to scratch didn’t leave them with much option other than to proceed.
Incidentally, Rule’s time makes her the first Philippines swimmer to ever advance beyond round 1 of an event at the Olympic Games as well. 14th-place qualifier Ana Monteiro becomes her country’s first ever female swimmer to advance from prelims in any Olympic event,
Honduras has been competing in swimming at the Olympic Games since 1984, but have previously never had a swimmer advance in any event. The country’s previous highest finish in an individual event at the Olympics came from Claudia Fortin, who was 22nd in the 800 free at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Avila swam collegiately at Boston University from 2015 through 2019. As a senior, she finished 7th in the 200 fly at the Patriot League Championships and was a member of the winning and school-record-setting 400 free relay.
Avila was the country’s flag-bearer at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, where she was 26th in the same 200 fly and 21st in the 200 IM.
“Universality” is the program by which FINA allocates Olympic qualifying spots to countries that haven’t had any swimmers hit Olympic qualifying times. Countries without an invited swimmer can invite up to 1 male and 1 female swimmer. Normally, these athletes must have competed at the prior World Championships, though that rule was suspended this year because of the delay in the Olympics caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, countries were instructed by FINA to select the swimmers with the best swims by FINA power points – though we know that globally, this was not accurately applied in many countries.
Avila was 31st in the 200 fly at the 2019 World Championships.