New Zealand Denies Kane Radford Olympic Open Water Spot

New Zealand Swimming has announced that they won’t be sending Kane Radford or Charlotte Webby to swim at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in the open water 10k, despite both earning a qualification via the 15 spots available at last weekend’s Olympic Qualifying race in Setubal, Portugal.

At that race, the top 10 finishers in each the men’s and women’s races, based on the 1-per-country limit, were direct qualifiers through to the Olympics. Among the remaining finishers, the best swimmer from each of the 5 global regions – the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania – again, in consideration of the 1-per-country rule, were selected as continental representatives to the Olympic Games.

New Zealand entered 3 swimmers in the weekend’s races:

In the cases of both Radford and Webby, they were each the top-finishing swimmer outside of the top 10 from the Oceanic region. That means that, from the perspective of FINA, they were both declared as qualified for the Olympic Games.

New Zealand, however, says they don’t believe that either swimmer would be competitive enough in Rio to warrant their selection.

The statement read, in part:

However the selectors were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence that either of the swimmers is capable of achieving the published nomination criteria which is that an individual swimmer must be capable of achieving a top 16 placing at the Games with the potential to win an Olympic Diploma (top eight placing).

This is the over-arching criteria established by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for selection of all New Zealand athletes across all sports.

While many swimming federations have established stricter-than-FINA standards for pool swimming, it’s been rare to do so in the 3 editions of Olympic marathon swimming giving the relatively compact (25 swimmers per gender) fields.

Webby finished over five minutes behind the winner of the qualifying race, and Radford was around 34 seconds back in the men’s swim. Both swimmers, however, could have swum the race with a reasonable suspicion that so long as they were the fastest Oceanic swimmers from outside of Australia, they would earn qualification based on their results.

National Olympic Committees have one more week to confirm their qualification places, and if Radford and Webby are not confirmed by New Zealand, then the empty spots will go to the next-best ranked swimmer not already qualified, regardless of continent.

While a vaguely-written qualification rule by FINA doesn’t specify that the one-per-country rule will still hold true in re-allocating those unused spots, we’ll assume that the intent is to apply that rule to the re-allocation as well. That would reallocate the women’s spot to Vania Nevers of Portugal in the women’s race, the 16th-place finisher at the qualifier; and Antonio Arroyo of Spain on the men’s side, who was 15th in the qualifier.

Radford finished 18th and 20th, respectively, in the 5k and 10k races at the 2013 World Championships, but only 30th in 2015. In between, he earned a bronze medal in the 10k at the 2014 Pan Pac Championships.

We have reached out to FINA to verify who would be next-in-line to receive those spots, and they said that the next qualifiers will be announced as soon as they are confirmed by their National Olympic Committees. We’ve also reached out to Radford to inquire as to whether he would fight the decision. As of posting, neither party had responded to those requests.

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na fam
6 years ago

The NZ Olympic Committee has their standards set for a reason. There are plenty of pool swimmers who hit the Fina B Standards and aren’t allowed to go. Kane and Charlotte had to show potential to place in the top 16 in their respective events. Kane finished 19th in the last chance race, and the top 10 open water swimmers had already qualified so weren’t even racing here. Realistically for Kane to have had a shot, he’d have needed to have finished top 6 in his last chance race, not 19th.

I know it’s heartbreaking. But not every life story is a fairytale. I know many people who came very close to qualifying in all kinds of sports. Kane didn’t… Read more »

shallowendofthepool
Reply to  na fam
6 years ago

Its is not so much the NZ Olympic committee standards, but rather SNZ failure to endorse Kane Radford. The NZOC require the endorsement of SNZ, and there are plenty of us around who know that SNZ don’t have any standards when it comes to changing the rules on a whim. It is disgraceful and a dark stain on those responsible who sit at the selection table,( who wouldn’t have a clue what is required to reach olympic qualification in anything but tiddly winks) As James T outlines above, the reason for this goes back in time and is the result of Sport NZ controlling governance and management decisions across the country. Until that is addressed there will certainly be no… Read more »

Human Ambition
Reply to  na fam
6 years ago

I am not suggesting favourism, but that NZOC lacks knowledge in the event of 10K open water.

History falsifies your argument ans shows us that the top-swimmers of the year before aren’t the top-10 at the games. Around 45% of the top-12 were from the qualifier in 2012. 50% of the medallistst. Yumi Kida was 13th in the qualifier and 12th in the games.

Maybe because some of the qualified swimmers in Kazan already peaked or because the Setubal guys have trained with a gun against the temple the whole winter. Or because Setubal is just a good race among very few to get in the season plan.

What’s bothering me is if Hutchings and pool swimmers… Read more »

h2tk
Reply to  na fam
6 years ago

Na Fam – “The NZ Olympic Committee has their standards set for a reason”. Oh, and what reasons are they in this case? When it is clear that the FINA ‘A’ times are not top-16 in the world anymore, and frankly have not been for many many years, they have been woefully mislead by SNZ into assuming that this is the case.

But your point is maintaining standards, which I have no issue with. What I do have an issue with is the application of those standards arbitrarily and inconsistently when it suits, when simple research of data would suggest those benchmarks are flawed.

Human Ambition
Reply to  h2tk
6 years ago

Two hour swim and 28 seconds from fifth place in a qualifier 10 timezones from Kane’s should be within the range of top-12-18. Given that he has reached Pan Pac podium earlier. Given that NZOC would support it’s athletes prior to the Games.

I cannot claim it is proven potential for an Olympic Diploma, but then the pool swimmers really is under hard pressure. The excellent Hutchings would need a drop from The Qualification race to 3.46.0-3.47.0 in the prelims. What is his best 400 prelim swim ever? And: If NSOC know that is within Matt’s potential, they really is pretty good at crystal balling.

Billabong
6 years ago

The South African swimmers knew before they swam, that qualification via the African slot was not open to them. They had to qualify via a top 9(10) spot, or they were staying at home. Harsh, but a lot easier to swallow when understood in advance.

James T
Reply to  Billabong
6 years ago

I am with you there. In 2012 Portugal qualifiers from NZL knew that too – in 2016 they competed under different conditions and expectation. A different standard has been applied to them and their pool counterparts – that is the issue. If the intention was to disallow a continental place then that should have been made clear from the start – as it was in 2012. That was not done – the invitation should be accepted.

Human Ambition
Reply to  James T
6 years ago

Very interesting James. The fact that he has beaten most of the swimmers on the field makes him a really good athlete.

James T
Reply to  Human Ambition
6 years ago

We all know that both Kane and Charlotte are really good athletes – sport doesn’t always reward the good though and that is sport. I don’t think the issue is about good athlete or not right now – it is about a system that has been applied inconsistently. Unfortunately to demonstrate the inconsistency there is no choice but to highlight the current rankings of the pool swimmers – that is unfair to the pool swimmers and should not in any way diminish their achievements, because they are really good athletes too. They qualified fair and square under the system they had to work within. They were not however subjected to a further test of “top 16” to apply a qualitative… Read more »

shallowendofthepool
6 years ago

SNZ should be ashamed of what they have done, of course they have a wall full of gold medals from being brilliant at being dysfunctional, small minded and forever changing their own rules to suit themselves. Based on their own SNZ criteria swimmers who qualified at opens finishing in the top 16 (qualifying long before the rest of the world) are now languishing down in the 30/40 world rankings, while meaning the pool swimmers no disrespect I cannot see any top 16 finishes, let alone medal prospects. This has set SNZ back to its dark old days, must be time for another tax payer funded inquiry….

James T
Reply to  shallowendofthepool
6 years ago

Shallowendofthepool – judging by your nomme de plume and it’s likely reference to another event and dark chapter in SNZ’s recent history, together with your excellent comment, you will know that the seeds of this current issue were sown well before the last tax payer funded enquiry. It’s purpose of course was at all costs to reinforce the position of the tax payer funded SNZ – that was nothing about making the sport better for swimmers – it was about ensuring that control was placed firmly in the hands of and under the effective control and political influence of Sport New Zealand. Until the sport in NZL is willing and able to make genuine and far-reaching changes then it will… Read more »

Leslie Rowe
6 years ago

Poor form NZ . Olympics it’s about a fair go for a sportsperson . New Zealand you should be ashamed of yourselves ???????????????????????????????????????????????? Kane and Charlotte deserve your support

maca
Reply to  Leslie Rowe
6 years ago

The hell it is. The Olympics is the most corrupt sporting institution out.

Joe
6 years ago

This seems ridiculous especially in open water. I don’t know OW swimming that well but I assume the effect tightly packed athletes can have on one another makes OW races way more of a toss up than pool swimming. I’m thinking the difference between long-track and short-track speed skating and the 2002 race where the guy from Australia took the gold by just staying in the back and waiting for everyone to run into each other. Bad analogy because that probably never happens in OW but when everyone’s in a tight bunch for 80% of the race, who knows what’ll happen at the end.

Human Ambition
Reply to  Joe
6 years ago

And NZLs Matthew Hutchings qualified in the 400 free with 3:50.1 at Canadian Nationals when 3:47.01 was the last final time back in 2012. They clearly doesn’t have the same selection policy for open water as in pool.

maca
Reply to  Human Ambition
6 years ago

He made the fina a standard. An established standard set by fina as a qualifying point. It is based on times of the past four years. If you don’t like it have a go at fina.

James T
Reply to  maca
6 years ago

I think Human Ambition’s point was not about Matthew Hutchins who we all know as a fine athlete who has done really well, and even better since he left NZL and has achieved in the NCAA system and is a great young man to go with it. Rather, It was about highlighting that there is an inconsistency of approach between the way in which pool swimmers are being selected and how that same sense of balance has not been applied to open water swimmers.

For the record I support the notion that the pool swimmers should have been selected based on meeting the designated FINA A qualifying standard. What I can never condone is what has been done for open… Read more »

Human Ambition
Reply to  maca
6 years ago

Thanks James T.

Since You (Maca) didn’t read or understand the article I will try to explain it clearer.
1) New Zealand does not recognize FINA-A standards.
2) New Zealand have their own standards: “Capable of achieving a top 16 placing at the Games”.
3) They are sending Matthew Hutchings with a 3:49.8 best time. Excellent. But from what we know with House M.D.-logics he won’t make a final without a 3 second drop and needs 0.5-1.2 second drop to make the B-final. He could do that, but as established such an improvement is less likely to appear in pool, as in open water. Due to the variables of drafting. Due to the variable of cool… Read more »

na fam
Reply to  Human Ambition
6 years ago

Matthew Hutchins has a best time in the 400 free of 3:48.6 from US Winter Nationals. The only reason he went a relatively slow 3:49.8 is because he had to do that swim a week after NCAAs.

Do you really think the NZOC has some grudge against Kane and some favouritism for Hutchins? Of course they want to send him, but they only want to send him IF he will get top 16. They probably know more than you do. I’d trust their call on this, despite it being sad. Life is not always a fairytale and we can’t just send people because they’ll be sad if they don’t go.

na fam
Reply to  Human Ambition
6 years ago

And the whole “Kane has beat for example Following top swimmers in major races during the last two years” thing is utter crap. I’ve beaten Tom Shields in a 100 fly when he went a 54 this year. Does that mean I’m going to go 51.1? NO. There is no logic in that argument.

Human Ambition
Reply to  na fam
6 years ago

No it means (as I wrote and NZ requires) that he is “capable” of doing it.

Human Ambition
Reply to  na fam
6 years ago

If you would beat Tom Shields, David Nolan and Ryan Lochte in the same 100 fly race you are prerry good. If you could do it by getting an advantage of your tactics, physical contact with them and your ability to sustain the given low pool temperature in Rio better than they did at a Pan Pacific Championship, you would be great.

Erikthedude
6 years ago

Doesn’t this seem a little bit suspicious? #illuminaticonfirmed

h2tk
6 years ago

The are plenty here who have a lot to say about New Zealand and its selection policy, maybe some are intimately involved, clearly others are not. What this “non-selection” highlights is an inconsistent application of policy by SNZ between Pool and Open Water.

As far as Pool selection is concerned, the NZ Selectors applied a primary, but not automatic, minimum criteria of meeting the FINA ‘A’ selection standard. This, notwithstanding an overriding provision which applies equally to Open Water whereby: “a. the Athlete … is … capable of achieving a top 16 placing at the Games in an Individual Non-Relay Event … ” Of course, the selection document contains other provisions, but this is the relevant one in this case.… Read more »

Human Ambition
Reply to  h2tk
6 years ago

Interesting. Some of the pool Olympians are not within the range of a NZOC top-16 capability, even in a blue moon, whilst Radford clearly is it.

maca
Reply to  Human Ambition
6 years ago

Radford is not within the range of top 16. And the pool swimmers made the fina a standard. This is the SECONDARY qualification meet. Neither swimmer could get even remotely close in the initial meet- the real qualification meet. Equivalent of fina a standard is views ten placing. Clear as a bell. Put up or shut up. The oceania spot is a joke anyway. How about kareena in the women’s race? She got 7th but unfortunately Chelsea got fifth so kareena doesn’t get to go. Imagine how it must feel to her to see someone who got 31st and was over five minutes behind her to be considered good enough to go to the Olympics and she gets denied. How… Read more »

maca
Reply to  h2tk
6 years ago

Those pool rankings are rubbish and you know it. The fina a standard is a qualifying standard. The equivalent in open water is a top ten finish. Don’t make a top ten then tough. It’s always been that way. Someone’s potential projectory of improvement is not good enough. Make it or don’t. Simple.
Cara baker was someone who did have potential, had the track record and the performance and she wasn’t taken last Olympics. It would be completely WRONG to take kane this time.
Oh and based on those results in kazan- which is of course the main qualifying meet- can you seriously say they were good enough? Based on those results they shouldn’t have been allowed to… Read more »

James T
Reply to  maca
6 years ago

Sorry, what is rubbish? Based on the current FINA rankings in the pool, 2 per nation (and they would be lower if you take straight rankings) these are the current NZL Pool swimmers rankings going into Rio. The US have still to have their trials but that won’t make a material difference because in all events there were at least 2 US swimmers ahead of the NZL swimmers. But surely this is the absurdity of using rankings in this case and trying to apply the same logic to Open Water. What I was highlighting was using a supposed top 16 standard for both (which is the overriding criteria for both) when clearly top 16 is a nonsense with Pool swimmers… Read more »

James T
Reply to  maca
6 years ago

cont.
By your logic the likes of Mallouli, Payne or Belmonte shouldn’t have been in Portugal. Mallouli and Payne made it. Belmonte didn’t. Therein lies the vagaries of Open Water swimming.

JoshMartini007
6 years ago

They did the same thing in 2012, which let Guam compete in the men’s race, too bad no other Oceania nation competed.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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