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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Swimmer
3 months ago

Has this ever happened before?

Last edited 3 months ago by Swimmer
Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Swimmer
3 months ago

No.

Samesame
Reply to  Swimmer
3 months ago

I remember asking me this a while ago and all the Americans assuring me that it has never and will never happen. Ummmmmm….

AJThomas
Reply to  Samesame
3 months ago

Technically, if you asked if about the possibility of only one American qualifying to swim the 400 the answer is still no.

Svird
3 months ago

Oops

Last edited 3 months ago by Svird
Joe Bailey
Reply to  Svird
3 months ago

ya… no

guy
3 months ago

Can they time trial at Omaha to try to get the A cut?

This guy
Reply to  guy
3 months ago

Yes, it’s a sanctioned meet within the qualification period

P K
Reply to  This guy
3 months ago

Not necessarily. FINA sets restrictions on which meets can be used to qualify for an OQT or OST — see https://www.fina.org/competitions/5/olympic-games-tokyo-2020/qualifications for currently accepted times and competitions. I would be curious to see if FINA would accept an OQT during a time trial; they’ve been funny about things like that in the past (the crux issue would be the concern that it’s not officiated or run to the same standards as the approved meet). Setting the standard in Mission Viejo would be safest. No one there probably thought they would have that kind of magnifying glass on the meet!

The way the US selection standards are written, Jake Mitchell will get the… Read more »

Jordanwins2golds
Reply to  P K
3 months ago

the olympic team may be usurped by a club meet at the end of the month?

P K
Reply to  Jordanwins2golds
3 months ago

USA Swimming probably supported getting that meet nominated.

Ex-Swimmer
3 months ago

Lets hear it for USRPT. Has been great for events like 400s. Who is last American to win a 400m Free and in what Olympics?

Jay Ryan
Reply to  Ex-Swimmer
3 months ago

DiCarlo 1984

Rafael
Reply to  Jay Ryan
3 months ago

Salkinov out and gross not swimming the 400 by who knows why

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Jay Ryan
3 months ago

boycotted olympics so no salnikov, who broke the wr in 1983 and went faster than dicarlo at the 1984 friendship games

Last edited 3 months ago by Old Man Chalmers
Ecoach
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
3 months ago

Not to mention Thomas Fahrner who went faster in the consolation final at the 1984 Olympics.

Catherine
Reply to  Ex-Swimmer
3 months ago

Ledecky – Rio – 2016. Trick question, because people assumed you meant MALE American to win a 400m Free

Ex-Swimmer
Reply to  Catherine
3 months ago

Good one however, no I meant men’s 400. We have not won a 400 or 1500 on the men’s side since 1984 and now today we failed to put two people under the Olympic A Cut in the 400. It says something to me.

Ugh
3 months ago

Woops. I thought everyone was over managing with 448 to 349 in preliminaries. Honestly shocked this was not a deeper event

Joe
3 months ago

Okay. So let me see if this is right (change out names as you like):

1) Magahey time trials a 3:46.0 and no one who finished 2-10 goes faster. Magahey is in.
2) Finke time trials a 3:44.0 and Magahey hits a 3:46.0. Magahey is in because he finished above Grothe in the 400 free and gets priority
3) Finke time trials a 3:44.0 and no one who finished 2-10 beats the A cut. Finke is in.
4) Finke time trials and goes a 3:46.0. Grothe is in because while Finke has an A cut it’s not faster than Grothe’s best time in the qualifying period.

Is that all correct?

Stank
Reply to  Joe
3 months ago

1.) Yes
2.) I don’t think so, pretty sure Finke has it then
3.) Yes
4.)I think so

Time Keeper
Reply to  Joe
3 months ago

Finke should time trial it. If he makes the team in the 800 or mile and time trials the A cut then I would hope thats good enough

Backstrokebro
Reply to  Time Keeper
3 months ago

ok, what if magahey takes out his 800/1500 in under the A cut? does that count?

Dan
Reply to  Backstrokebro
3 months ago

Yes, but he might want to finish those races, esp. with how easy the 800 cut is

Time Keeper
Reply to  Time Keeper
3 months ago

Litherland time trials it from lane 4 and put Lochte and Foster in lane 3 and 5 with a 50M head start. New AR

Editor
Reply to  Joe
3 months ago

No. Finke cannot make it because Grothe has ultimate priority over Finke due to his better finish at trials. 1 and 2 are correct. But anything past that goes: Finke goes 3:44.0. Grothe sits on his couch and eats potato chips. Grothe gets it because he has the A standard already and a higher finish at trials than Finke.
The only people who can usurp Grothe are the swimmers listed in the article who have the trials finish tie breaker on him.

Joe
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 months ago

Got it, good to know. This seems fairest I think. Thanks for your quick pulling up of the relevant rules!

John Appleseed
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 months ago

Even if Finke time trials it? I know that means he didn’t technically finish “above” Grothe at Trails but he has to formally compete in the event?

Willswim
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 months ago

“The only people who can usurp Grothe are the swimmers listed in the article who have the trials finish tie breaker on him.”

*Or Dean Farris should he choose to.

Alec Scott
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 months ago

I think the US could choose to allow Finke to swim it if he qualifies in other events and is already on the roster no? If the Roster is full with Finke on it and no room for a 2nd 400 guy if he made the cut in a time trial would he get the spot?

I feel like someone who placed 10th in an event has to be even lower priority than 6th place in 100 / 200 free.

Togger
Reply to  Alec Scott
3 months ago

The issue isn’t the US, it’s FINA, a country is only allowed two swimmers in an event if both hit the A cut during the qualifying period.

Riccardo
Reply to  Togger
3 months ago

I understand that. I’m saying it Finke is on the roster for the 800/1500. Has the A cut in the 400 from a time trial. And the roster is full before Grothe was brought onto the team. Could he swim then?

Swammer
3 months ago

So if one of those guys makes the oly team in another event or gets an A cut in another event they are likely to get the spot? Who out of that field is most likely to do that? Dant in the 800? Mitchell in the 200?

Eddie Rowe
Reply to  Swammer
3 months ago

It wouldn’t give them the spot because FINA still wouldn’t have invited them to that event.

DC Swim Fan
3 months ago

This is actually fascinating