As other organizations have done in light of the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, as well as a rocky competition schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, Swim Ireland has revealed an updated Olympic selection policy.
The most notable change involves pre-selecting Irish athletes who have already achieved an Olympic qualification time. This means that breaststroker Darragh Greene and backstroker Shane Ryan can now both be officially considered for the Games, courtesy of their FINA ‘A’ qualification marks hit last year.
Greene made the grade in the 100m breast, clocking a time of 59.82 at the 2019 FINA World Championships. As for Ryan, the former USA national teamer produced a time of 53.73 at the 2019 Irish Open.
The other change in the Swim Ireland Olympic nomination policy involves allowing those who do not meet the qualification time at the Irish Olympic Trials in April to qualify at a nominated meet in June.
Says Swim Ireland on these changes, “The COVID pandemic has clearly affected all sections of society and despite the support and understanding Swim Ireland have received from Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland during these times, we continue to face some significant challenges in the preparation of our athletes. Revisions to swimming training environments, the ongoing challenge facing domestic and international competition between now and the Games as well as athlete/staff welfare and wellbeing are very much at the heart of the changes, felt to be both appropriate and necessary.”
National Performance Director Jon Rudd said, “This revised Policy is a COVID-specific move away from that which has become our regular and recognised selection process for a summer senior international benchmark meet because of these exceptional times and aims to provide athletes with the fairest possible opportunity to be nominated to the OFI for the Tokyo Olympic Games. We spent a great deal of time looking at that which we truly believe in for international success (individual event selection via a sole Trials) to that which has become necessary because of the unprecedented circumstances that we have faced over the last 10 months – circumstances that are still with us and will remain so for some months to come. We believe that the breadth and balance that the four stage Nomination Process gives us satisfies our performance need, whilst being underpinned by a process which is ethically sound in terms of athlete opportunity.”
National Senior Team Head Coach Ben Higson said, “With the uncertainty that has surrounded and continues to surround us regarding COVID-19, it has been it has been imperative that we respond and not react to the situation we find ourselves in. The new four stage approach provides fairness in opportunity and will hopefully ensure as many of our athletes as possible can be on the plane to Tokyo. Athletes and coaches have worked tirelessly throughout the past four years and deserve to have the best possible opportunity to qualify.’
Great Britain also recently announced its preselection of 4 athletes in a similar fashion, with Duncan Scott, Adam Peaty, James Wilby and Luke Greenbank having been added to the GBR roster for Tokyo.