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:
- Kane Radford, who finished 19th in the men’s race
- Charlotte Webby, who was 34th in the women’s race
- Phillip Ryan, who was 31st in the men’s race
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.