Sarah Köhler and Florian Wellbrock cracked German Olympic Qualifying Standards

by Daniela Kapser 4

February 08th, 2020 Europe, News

MWG Swim Cup 2020, Magdeburg, Germany

Sarah Köhler is the first female swimmer who dipped under the German Olympic qualifying standard. She achieved a time of 8:29,96 in the 800m freestyle at the MWG-Swim-Cup. The time to be achieved by her was 8:33,36. Sarah Köhler is one of the German swimmers for whom special qualifying times apply, as she finished in the top four in the 800m freestyle at the 2019 World Championships. Köhler also is the 2019 silver medalist in the 1500 m freestyle from the World Championships in Gwangju. She also won a gold medal with the German 4×1,25 mixed open water relay and placed 4th in the 800m freestyle.

Sarah Köhler can turn her focus now towards the Olympic preparations. “This would give us three months more and thus twice as much time to prepare for Japan as those swimmers who might only make it to the end of the German qualification period, which runs until May 3,” her coach Bernd Berkhahn had already explained before the start of the competition.

And another protégé of coach Berkhahn can now fully concentrate on the Olympic preparations: Florian Wellbrock swam a time of 14:46,61 in the 1500 m freestyle. He stayed clearly under the required cut of 15:00,99. Wellbrock won gold at the 2019 World Championships over this distance and also gold over the 10 km open water. He is already qualified for Tokyo in the open water event. Wellbrock is the first swimmer ever to win a gold medal in both, open water and pool swimming at World Championships. In addition to the qualification over 1500 m freestyle, the 22-year-old will also try to recommend himself for the Olympics over 800 m freestyle. He has to undercut a time of 7:50,30.

Florian Wellbrock now ranks first in the 1500m freestyle in the 2020 World ranking ahead of Mykhailo Romanchuk.

Four German swimmers have so far punched their ticket to Tokyo: Besides Sarah Köhler (800m freestyle) and Florian Wellbrock (1500m freestyle), Philip Heintz (200 m IM) and Marco Koch (200 m breaststroke) have also qualified.

Marco Koch is the only one of these nominated swimmers whose qualification isn’t protected by the special clause in the German qualifying criterias. The rule says that if a swimmer finished in the top 4 at last year’s World Championships that is an automatically qualification for Tokyo if they hit the Olympic “A” time (OQT) after January 1st until May 3rd. In theory, if 2 other Germans were faster before the May 3rd qualifying deadline, Marco Koch could be bumped. At present that’s unlikely, given that the 3rd-fastest German in 2019 was just 2:12.84, but it is possible.

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Greta swim! 14:46 in february, that WR is in danger in Tokio.


14.46.61 (his sixth fastest performance ever) in early February is really impressive, considering Wellbrock’s previous seasons. In February 2018 Wellbrock swam 15.02.54 and then he won EuroChamps in summer with 14.36.15, his PB. Apart his two 14.36s at Euro2018 and Worlds2019, Wellbrock has swum his quickest times in April (14.40.69 in April2018 at Stockholm his third performance ever): it’ll be very interesting seeing what he’ll be swimming in this season in April, after his “intermediate” taper (if he’ll make an intermediate taper)

Human Ambition

Bernd is great and extremely thorough! US swimming should fly in him for a clinic.


I don’t see a reason why he should taper again before the olympics. Those past seasons he had to taper in April to qualify, but now he is already qualified and can focus on the olympics. He said after the race that the difference between this season and the past seasons is that he wasn’t ill this time (so far), so he didn’t have to pause training. He had to swim 15:00 here to qualify, so he knew that he didn’t have to be close to his best to qualify, not sure if we can draw any conclusions from the fact that he still swam 14:46.

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