Relay Entries Down Over 31% From 2015 to 2017 Worlds

Relay entries are way down for the 2017 World Championships as compared to the last edition in Kazan. And not just by a little – there are 31.5% fewer relay entries across the 8 relay events as compared to the 2015 edition.

Each of those 8 relays had fewer entries in 2017 than in 2015, most significantly of which was the women’s 800 free relay – where entries dropped almost in half, from 19 to 10.

Relay entries are typically lower in the post-Olympic World Championships than they are in the pre-Olympic World Championships. The most likely explanation is that the pre-Olympic World Championship involves Olympic qualifying. The top 12 teams at the 2015 World Championships earned a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games – a big prize, even for smaller nations.

In the post-Olympic year, while there is cash available to the top 8 teams, there is little other motivation for a smaller nation that isn’t within reach of a final. Even then, the prize offerings for lower places, when split 4 ways, is still fairly low.

But this year is an anomaly even on that level – while the original entry books for the 2013 World Championships aren’t available, 2017 entries are down slightly even as compared to 2013 actual relays swum – with the presumption that some of the 2017 relays entered may not actually swim.

Another explanation for the decrease from 2013 is that teams are no longer allowed to send swimmers to the meet and have them not swim. So, we would expect that there will be fewer relays entered and scratched.

It will still leave a weird vibe in some of the relays. The women’s 800 free relay, for example, can be swum as almost a timed final. It technically could, since the Danube Arena has a 10-lane pool, though officials won’t for the integrity of the competition.

This does, however, open up an opportunity for top nations, like the United States, with their depth, to do a full relay refresh from prelims to finals if they want to. For other countries, like Hungary, it could allow them to rest one overloaded star (Katinka Hosszu in this case, with 6 individual entries), and still make the final.

The mixed relays continue to be heavily participated in – primarily because smaller countries with fewer than 4 elites of one sex can often cobble together 2 of each sex to participate in a mixed relay. This international interest is a big factor in their continued inclusion in the Worlds schedule, and Olympic schedule starting in 2020.

Below, see a comparison from 2013-2017.

2013 2015 2017 2015-2017 % decrease
Actually Competed Entry Book Entry Book
Women’s 400 free relay 16 22 15 31.8%
Men’s 400 free relay 17 32 20 37.5%
Mixed 400 medley N/A 40 31 22.5%
Women’s 800 free relay 13 19 10 47.4%
Men’s 800 free relay 18 25 17 32.0%
Mixed 400 free relay N/A 39 27 30.8

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IMs for days
5 years ago

I actually hate this. I personally enjoy mornign heats as its intriguing to watch for potnetial upset and fast swims. Morning relays use to have a sense of danger to them, now with only 12 teams their kind of a joke.

5 years ago

If I remember correctly, there were only 9 or 10 teams in the women’s 800 free relay in the Windsor short course championships as well. With only 10 teams, it’ll be really easy for for the medal contending teams to qualify. For example, Canada used 3 of the same 4 athletes in the morning prelims and the finals. They took the morning swim really easy and dominated the gold – Oleksiak and Ruck each dropped more than 5 seconds in the final.

But we’ll still probably still see the medal contenders to use a different team in the prelims and the finals.

5 years ago

Less Tourists, as CommonWombat would say

Aussie crawl
Reply to  Pvdh
5 years ago

Mate……. are you suggesting Aussie ones?

Reply to  Aussie crawl
5 years ago

I once saw an actress declare she was not a tourist but a Traveller , so I have upgrade these to this higher status . Not to be confused with the UK / Irish terminology .

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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