Mick and Kevin Litherland Entered for Omaha After Missing NZ OLY Team


Two of the Litherland triplets, Mick and Kevin, tried for the New Zealand Olympic Team this spring but came up short. Nevertheless, their names showed up on the psych sheets for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.

The triplets, Jay included, hold triple citizenship between the U.S., New Zealand, and Japan. You can read more about that here. Because Jay has already represented the USA internationally (he won the 400 IM gold at the 2015 World University Games), he is no longer able to represent NZ or Japan at international meets (like the Olympics).

Mick and Kevin, meanwhile, had not yet competed for the U.S. internationally when it came time for NZ Olympic qualification, so they tried to punch their tickets for Rio under the Kiwi banner. Neither brother was fast enough for Rio qualification at the Canadian Trials in April, which served as a meet for Kiwis to qualify for the NZ team. That means that they have yet to represent ANY country internationally, so they’re still eligible to compete at U.S. Trials to jockey for a spot on the American Olympic team.

They look to be joining their brother Jay in Omaha for the U.S. Trials, as both Mick and Kevin also appear on the psych sheets. Mick is seeded 13th in the 200 fly, 46th in the 100 fly, and 49th in the 400 free. Kevin sits at #12 in the 400 free, #21 in the 1500, and #31 in the 200 free.

Jay, meanwhile, is closest to making the U.S. team. He’s seeded third in the 400 IM as well as 17th in the 200 free with a time that he swam earlier this month, which was a new best time without a full taper. Up to the top six finishers in the 100 and 200 free can make the American Olympic team for the 400 and 800 free relays.

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Is there a document somewhere online that details these rules? Where does it say that once a swimmer swims for one country, they can’t then swim for a different one they are also a citizen of?

bobby gan

Athletes can represent any country they hold citizenship of, but there’s a minimum waiting period in between representing two countries. The length of waiting period differs from a sporting federation to another. For a swimmer who changed their sporting nationality, the waiting period is 12 months, and they must reside in that new country for 12 months before they can start swim internationally for the new country (This is why Arkady Vyatchanin’s application was rejected, because Serbia was not able to submit his proof of residency of the past 12 months). This 12 months rule does not apply to anyone who has not represented a country internationally, and therefore Mick and Kevin Litherland are able to try for NZ or… Read more »

bobby gan


bobo gigi

It’s absolutely ridiculous in my opinion.
It’s not a game. You must be proud to represent a country.
I will never understand athletes who try to represent another country most of the time only because it’s much easier to qualify.
IAAF tries to make harder for athletes to represent another country. Finally. It was so stupid.

bobby gan

How is it easy to represent a new country?

Go tell what you are blabbering here to Arkady Vyatchanin (without the anonymity of computer screen) and I’ll be interested to hear what/how he will respond to you.


BOBO said “much easier to qualify” referring to the fact it is easier to qualify for the team (in this case New Zealand as opposed to the USA).

bobby gan

Well, the brothers are going to try to represent USA now by swimming in Omaha. So why is Bobo so indignant about them.

Also, if that is what he means, then my point remains:
He should go tell Arkady that he thinks Arkady is ridiculous for trying to swim for Serbia. I’d like to know what Arkady is going to say to him.

Irish Ringer

It’s not that hard to figure out. He’s saying show some pride and represent your country. The Olympics is a time to proudly represent your nation, not try to game the system for whatever country you can most easily qualify for.

They live here and have for several years. They’ve never lived in New Zealand and only have a loose tie in that the father was born there, so why would they represent New Zealand other than it’s easier to make the team there?

bobby gan

On that account, if that were so easy as you claim, there must have been dozens of swimmers successfully changed their sporting nationality and competed internationally for their new countries. Please list them!

Because as far as I know, there have been only a few in the past 10 years:
Alena Popchenka (Belarus to France!), Hanna Scherba (Belarus to France! LOL), Sarah Poewe (South Africa to Germany), Tao Li (China to Singapore), Darian Townsend (South Africa to USA) and probably a couple others GBR swimmers who later moved to Australia.

But these swimmers only changed their nationalities post-peak, with the exception of Tao Li.

Ellen Gandy, Santo Condorelli, Mike Alexandrov, Adam Mania, Shane Ryan, Ben Hockin, Viktoria Gunes…

It actually happens a lot. Often it happens before they ever represent their native country. If you started counting guys like Cavic, who was born grew up in the US but represented (ultimately Serbia) internationally, the list would be even bigger.

bobby gan

And yet none of them ever won individual Olympics or world cham

Joe Bagodonuts

Well, if you’re going to keep moving the goal posts, . . . . You said it seldom happens and asked for a list. Then, when provided with a list, you respond with “Oh, yeah!? But, none of them ever turned out to be the best in the world!” Not sure why you get so defensive about one person’s expression of their view of athletes who seek out a shorter bar to clear. But, you are entitled to your opinion, just as Bobo is, so here endeth my reply.

bobby gan

It still seldom happens. There have been only around a dozen top names (from my list and Braden’s) in the past 10 years who changed their sporting nationality. Compared that with the total numbers of all swimmers who have participated in world championships and the Olympics in the past 10 years.

bobby gan

And yet none of them ever won individual Olympics or world championships medal representing the new country.

You mentioned condorelli, but has he actually represented USA internationally?
We are talking about difficulties in changing sporting nationality, not representing a country internationally for the first time.

You’re correct, Condorelli never repped the US. I was thinking his situation was relevant because he swam at the 2012 U.S. Trials.

Irish Ringer

The reason they go running off to another country is because they typically aren’t Olympic Champion caliber swimmers otherwise they would stay and represent the best swimming nation in the world.


Pretty sure Cavic has won the 50fly at a LC world championships. So he can proudly say he is a world champion even though it is not an Olympic event. Much bigger of an accomplishment in my mind when compared to the US prelims only swimmers


Why? It’s just a game.

bobby gan


The facts

Maybe they’re just doing it so they can watch Jay in person and support their brother? Instead of attempting to spend the money and buy tickets

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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