No Debating Here, Australia and U.S. Tied In Qualifying All Seven Relays For Paris 2024


World records and gold medals were not the only things up for grabs in Fukuoka last week. Three qualification spots for the 2024 Paris Games in every Olympic relay as well as in the open water (marathon swimming) 10K, were allocated based on the results of the past fortnight.


The women’s and men’s 4×100 freestyle relay, 4×200 freestyle relay, and 4×100 medley relay, as well as the mixed 4×100 medley relay, all awarded three spots for the Games (the mixed 4×100 free relay is not an Olympic event). Finishing in the top three of any of the relays scheduled to be contested at the Olympics earns the country a berth in that event.

While swimmers, commentators, and media go back and forth between who sits atop the medal table, the United States or Australia, no one can disagree that they equally share the accolade of being the only countries to have qualified all of their relays for the 2024 Paris Summer Games.

Australia United States
Women’s 4×100 Free Relay: 1st – 3:27.96 WR Women’s 4×100 Free Relay: 2nd – 3:31.93
Women’s 4×200 Free Relay: 1st – 7:37.50 WR Women’s 4×200 Free Relay: 2nd – 7:41.38
Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay: 2nd – 3:53.37 Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay: 1st – 3:52.08
Men’s 4×100 Free Relay: 1st – 3:10.49 Men’s 4×100 Free Relay: 3rd – 3:10.81
Men’s 4×200 Free Relay: 3rd – 7:02.13 Men’s 4×200 Free Relay: 2nd – 7:00.02
Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay: 3rd – 3:29.62 Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay: 1st – 3:27.20
Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay: 2nd – 3:39.03 Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay: 3rd – 3:40.19

While the gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded with these relays are obviously important, earning that guaranteed relay berth maybe be of more paramount importance, especially with the qualification system for the remaining relay berths.

Per the qualification system, which can be found in its entirety here, there will be a maximum of 16 qualified teams in each relay event.

The first three teams to qualify come directly from Fukuoka, while the remaining 13 teams will be selected by using the fastest times combined between the 2023 Worlds and the 2024 World Championships in Doha. Should the last qualifying spot result in a tie, a swim-off would occur to determine the final invitation.

The Australian and American squads fully qualifying all of their relays must be a relief, as neither nation appears to be holding a qualification meet for the 2024 Worlds. Per the Australian selection criteria, Swimming Australian will select a team of approximately 20 swimmers based on past results over the 2023 season. USA Swimming has yet to release any details.

Nations that failed to qualify in certain relays by not placing better than 4th must either field a strong team in Doha or rely on their time from Fukuoka and hope that other nations don’t overtake them.

Some nations may take that gamble and not send a full-strength team to Doha to avoid a potential triple taper (Worlds, Olympic Trials (if held), and Olympics), but some countries cannot afford that luxury. Several nations did not field relays in Fukuoka and therefore have no times, such as Hungary in the women’s medley relay or Spain in the mixed medley.

Perhaps in a more precarious situation are nations that were disqualified in the prelims, chief among them the British men’s 4×100 free relay. Their only path to qualification is to post a time upon the fastest 13 from the combined Worlds results. While that should not be a problem as they were among the favorites to win the event in Fukuoka, should another DQ occur in prelims, then there would be no prospect of a lane in the Olympics for Matt Richards and company.

Women’s 4×100 Free Relay Women’s 4×200 Free Relay
Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay
1 Australia Australia United States
2 United States United States Australia
3 China China Canada
  Men’s 4×100 Free Relay Men’s 4×200 Free Relay Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay
1 Australia Great Britain United States
2 Italy United States China
3 United States Australia Australia
  Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay
1 China
2 Australia
3 United States

China fell short in three events, all of which were taken by different nations (Canada in the women’s medley, Italy in the men’s 4×100 free, and Great Britain in the men’s 4×200 free), but should have no problems qualifying in all three of them. They finished 4th in both the women’s medley and men’s 4×100 free and 11th in the men’s 4×200 free but would need to be passed by six nations in Doha, and the 16th placed team’s (Thailand) time in Fukuoka was close to 30 seconds slower than China’s.

Open Water

SwimSwam has already reported on the open-water results, but you can find a brief recap below.

Based on the qualification system document, there will be a max of 22 athletes in the event in Paris, with the top three finishers in the 10K from Fukuoka being the first entrants.

Unlike with the relays, qualification for the remaining spots is based solely on results from the World Championships in Doha, save for one spot for each gender, which is reserved for the Olympic host nation, France.

Qualified Athletes

Women Men
1. Leonie Beck (GER) 1. Florian Wellbrock (GER)
2. Chelsea Gubecka (AUS) 2. Kristof Rasovszky (HUN)
3. Katie Grimes (USA) 3. Oliver Klemet (GER)

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4 months ago

When was the last time Australia medalled in every relay? Beijing?

Very happy we medalled in all, but being realistic, I’m not sure the auto-qualification is that important. I would be shocked if any teams with a top 8 swim in Fukuoka miss Paris. It would require 13 teams in Doha, excluding the Fukuoka medallists, to swim faster than the 8th time in Fukuoka. Even if Doha was a full strength meet, which we know it won’t be, that’s extremely unlikely to happen.

If I had to bet over under, I would bet that not a single relay with a top 10 time in Fukuoka misses Paris.

Reply to  Sub13
4 months ago

I think the importance is due to the possibility of DQ’ing at other qualifying meets. Always better to have it locked in sooner than later.

Reply to  Sub13
4 months ago

I hope Doha is a big fat bust of a swim meet. The only benefit for swimmers is to get some prize money in your pocket

4 months ago

I’m assuming a relay swim-off would be in Doha, too?

And I imagine that GB prelim relay of the men’s 4×100 in Doha might be high-fiving each other on their take-offs

4 months ago

Your first table says USA 1st in women’s 4×200 relay?

4 months ago

Australia 7
China 4
Canada 1
Great Britain 1
Italy 1

Lord Mofo
4 months ago

Australia is currently on top, team USA would most likely stand a chance in paris would love to see a fierce rivalry play out

VA Steve
4 months ago

The picture is outrageous. Deliberately chosen to portray the USA on top.

Reply to  VA Steve
4 months ago

Agree . Australia won more relays

Reply to  Joel
4 months ago

comment image

Reply to  Wow
4 months ago

Sigh. I was joking. Thought it was obvious.

Reply to  Joel
4 months ago

Jokes aren’t allowed, Joel