Only Smith Breaks Olympic “A” Cut in 400 Free Final, What Now?

Kieran Smith was the only swimmer to crack the Olympic Qualifying Time (OTQ) of 3:46.78 in the men’s 400 free final tonight. Second place finisher Jake Mitchell touched the wall at 3:48.17. So what happens now?

Team USA can send two swimmers to Tokyo with OQT, or “Olympic A,” cuts or one swimmer with the OST cut, which are known as Olympic “B” cuts.

2016 Olympic Trials finalist Zane Grothe has also broken the OQT cut within the Olympic selection criteria qualification period of March 1, 2019 through June 27, 2021. Grothe finished in 11th place during prelims with a time of 3:50.80, missing both the final and the OQT cut. But there appears to be no rule that a swimmer must make the Olympic Trial finals to qualify.

That qualification period doesn’t expire until June 27, so people can still qualify at other meets up until that date. The likely last chance for Americans will be a FINA-approved meet in Mission Viejo June 26-27 (though they could in theory fly to Rome and race at the Sette Colli Trophy). There is also a FINA meet in the Bahamas on June 24th.

But that selection is the last priority, meaning if the Olympic Team fills up 26 spots before that time, that second 400 free spot remains Grothe’s, but he can be bumped up until that point.

Note that Mitchell did break the Olympic SelectionTime (OST) of 3:52.00 which is “an easier time standard developed by FINA for those wishing to compete in relays and, subject to certain limitations and restrictions, individual Events at the Olympic Games.” Without Smith’s swim tonight, Mitchell or whoever posted the fastest OST could still have gone to Tokyo pending FINA invite, but Smith’s big drop in finals eliminated that possibility.

A Wrinkle: The spot currently belongs to Zane Grothe thanks to a 3:45.78 at the 2019 World Championships. To be bumped, a swimmer doesn’t have to beat that time in Mission Viejo, they just have to hit the Olympic “A” standard of 3:46.78 AND have placed higher than Zane at Trials. So this means that the swimmers eligible to do so are: Ross Dant, Chris Wieser, Trey Freeman, Brooks Fail, Jake Mitchell, Andrew Abruzzo, Mitch D’Arrigo, Jake Magahey, and Coby Carrozza.

If more than one of those swimmers gets the “A” cut in Mission Viejo, the Bahamas, or at a Time Trial later this week, then whoever finished highest of those swimmers who hit the “A” cut go to Tokyo.

There were no returners from the 2016 U.S. trials 400 free final in tonight’s final. Grothe, who finished in 4th place would have been the only returner. His lifetime best stands at 3:44.43 from 2017 Summer Nationals

USA Swimming Selection Criteria Regarding OTQ’s:

“Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT). An Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) is a time standard developed by FINA for those wishing to compete in individual Events at the Olympic Games. OQTs can be achieved in competitions approved for that purpose by FINA from March 1, 2019 through June 27, 2021 29, 2020. FINA Olympic Qualification Time Standards are found in Attachment A. 3 

“Olympic Selection Time (OST). An Olympic Selection Time (OST) is an easier time standard developed by FINA for those wishing to compete in relays and, subject to certain limitations and restrictions, individual Events at the Olympic Games. OSTs can be achieved in competitions approved for that purpose by FINA from March 1, 2019 through June 27, 2021 29, 2020. FINA Olympic Qualification Time Standards are found in Attachment A. Qualifying Competition. “Qualifying Competition” means the 2020”

“To ensure Nomination to the Team, all athletes qualifying to swim in an individual Event at the Olympic Games must equal or better the OQT standard set by FINA for that Event during the applicable time period established by FINA (March 1, 2019 – June 27, 2021 29, 2020) in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA (competitions can be found at fina.org). Per FINA rules, USA Swimming will be allowed to enter two athletes in an Event at the Olympic Games only if both athletes have equaled or bettered the OQT in that Event in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA.

“(b) An athlete may also qualify to be Nominated to the Team by equaling or bettering the OST. Per FINA rules, any swimmer eligible to be Nominated to the Team who has achieved an OST, but not an OQT, in an individual Event must receive an invitation from FINA through the USOPC or USA Swimming in order to compete in the Olympic Games. If a swimmer does not receive an invitation from FINA to compete in the Olympic Games on or before July 4, 2021 July 6, 2020, then that swimmer will not be eligible for Nomination to the Team in that individual Event. See Section 1.3.5 for the requirements relating to OQTs and OSTs. See Attachment A for OQT and OST standards for each Event.

For those who want to read the exact rule:

“Application of OQTs and OSTs.

“(a) Subject to the application of the priorities described in Section 1.3.4 above and the other rules set forth in this Section 1.3.5, it is generally anticipated that the two best finishing Available Swimmers in each individual Event at the Qualifying Competition (i.e., from Wave II) will qualify for the Team and will be given the opportunity to swim the corresponding individual Event at the Olympic Games (for example, the top two 200-meter butterfly finishers at the Qualifying Competition will swim the 200-meter butterfly at the Olympic Games). However, FINA has a requirement that, in order for two U.S. athletes to compete in an individual Event at the Olympic Games, both athletes must have swum an OQT in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA. Note: the OQT does not have to be done at the Qualifying Competition but must be done during the March 1, 2019 – June 27, 2021 29, 2020, timeframe in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA. The applicable FINA qualifying procedures are set forth in Attachment A.

“(b) If the best finishing athlete in a particular Event does not have an OQT, but has an OST, he or she must be invited by FINA to participate at the Olympic Games. For purposes of clarification, if the best finishing Available Swimmer in an Event at the Qualifying Competition has an OST, and the second best finishing Available Swimmer has an OQT, only the best finishing Available Swimmer finisher will be Nominated to the Team and will swim that Event at the Olympic Games, if invited by FINA, while the second best finishing Available Swimmer would not be Nominated to the Team for that Event nor would he or she swim in that Event at the Olympic Games.

“(c) If a swimmer who stands to be Nominated to the Team has not received an invitation from FINA to participate in the Olympic Games on or before July 4, 2021 July 6, 2020, then that swimmer shall not be eligible for Nomination to the Team in that Event and the next best finishing Available Swimmer(s) will be selected according to the process set forth in Section 1.3.4 above.

“(d) If the second best finishing athlete in an Event at the Qualifying Competition does not achieve an OQT in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA by the June 27, 2021 29, 2020, deadline, the next best finishing Available Swimmer in that Event at the Qualifying Competition will be eligible for Nomination to the Team in place of the athlete who does not have the OQT, provided that the replacement athlete has achieved an OQT and satisfies all other requirements for Nomination to the Team. If the athlete who stands to be replaced has qualified to be Nominated to the Team in another Event and he or she has achieved the OQT in that other Event, then he or she will not 9 be removed from Nomination to the Team (unless required under another provision of these Selection Procedures) but will be removed from the Event in which he or she has not achieved the required OQT. If the next best finishing Available Swimmer does not have an OQT in a competition approved for that purpose by FINA, then the subsequent best finishing Available Swimmer in that Event at the Qualifying Competition will be Nominated to the Team in place of the athlete(s) who do not have the OQT, provided that the replacement athlete has an OQT and satisfies all other requirements for Nomination to the Team. This process will repeat until an Available Swimmer who has an OQT is eligible for Nomination to the Team or there are no other Available Swimmers who may be eligible for Nomination to the Team in that Event. If there are no other Available Swimmers with an OQT from a competition approved by FINA for that purpose, then USA Swimming will only Nominate one Available Swimmer to the Team in that Event”

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ziad hassan
1 year ago

do you need to swim the finals to qualify for olympics or a top 2 prelims time gets you to olympics

AJThomas
1 year ago

I am not making excuses just pointing out a fact: the A cut for the 400 is 6.7 off the world record. By comparison the 400 IM is 12 seconds. Percentage wise the 400 is by far the closest to the WR.

On the other hand 5 guys went under 3:46 in 2016 and you have to back to 1996 for a 3:48 to make the team. So a harder standard isn’t to blame for this.

AJThomas
1 year ago

So if 8 time trial in MV and two of them make the cut, it won’t matter who goes faster. What will matter is who placed higher at trials.

d3fan
1 year ago

The most epic swim off- fly all 10 (Zane included) to the Bahamas for a winner take all single event 400 free Prelims/Finals meet.

Whoa
1 year ago

“Grothe would have been the only returner”…..???

Haas and Shoults also swam that morning

Kylie
1 year ago

That time would have only earned him 5th place at the Australian trials

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Men’s 400 free is weak for a while in USA.

jvog88
1 year ago

Though they’d have to first realistically assess their chances to make it in the 800/1500, I think all the bros above should time trial this 400 TOGETHER later this week, Grothe in on it too. Get a full heat going with competition/anticipation/coverage rather than the regular unwatched time trial with only 1-2 swimmers that results in a “miss”. Just my humble opinion.

Last edited 1 year ago by jvog88
Megbert
Reply to  jvog88
1 year ago

If Grothe swims his goal would just be to mess with the other swimmers. Even if he wins, him helping others under the A cut takes away his chance.

Last edited 1 year ago by Megbert
A C
Reply to  jvog88
1 year ago

maybe save that for Mission Viejo to build audience for that meet

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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