SwimSwam Pulse: 58.5% Believe Federations Should Stop Using Their Own Qualifying Times

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers if they believe national federations should stop using their own qualification times:

Question: Should national federations stop implementing their own qualification standards?


  • Yes – 58.5%
  • No – 22.0%
  • Indifferent – 19.5%

There was a bit of a cloud over the British Swimming Championships earlier this month, with the country’s stringent World Championship qualifying times resulting in there being only a handful of athletes earning automatic selection to Fukuoka.

Entering the fourth day of competition, only three swimmers had earned the auto standards implemented by British Swimming, resulting in the national governing body changing its selection policy midway through the meet.

Originally, British Swimming’s policy only allowed them to make eight discretionary additions to the World Championship roster, but this change opened the door so they could name an unlimited number of extra athletes to the team.

With discretionary additions essentially always at play when countries are selecting rosters, particularly for those that use their own standards, it makes the qualifying times essentially irrelevant.

The only qualifying times that truly matter are the FINA ‘A’ cuts, so it would make sense for national federations to simply let those standards be, or at least make their standards be within reason, rather than setting marks hardly any of their swimmers are capable of achieving.

In our latest poll, 58.5 percent of readers said that federations should stop implementing their own standards, while 22 percent said no and just under 20 remain indifferent.

In addition to Great Britain, France is another nation that has put out incredibly fast qualifying times over the last decade.

Another factor to keep in mind is that some federations are geared solely towards winning medals, and these elite standards are put in place so that the country only sends the athletes with a shot at the podium to an event like the World Championships.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Would you like to see data while watching swimming live?

Would you like to see live biometric data during races?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 month ago

British Swimming has the toughest time standards in the world. Every other country, including US, utilize FINA’s actual A/B qualifying cuts for the respective championship meet. Not a problem in the US bc of the vast depth of swimmers already under the qualifying mark. Britain literally changed their BR times so that ONLY Peaty, Murdoch, Wilby, etc can qualify.

Reply to  SSNP
1 month ago

Australia does not use the FINA times usually..certainly not this year. Neither does Japan.

1 month ago

As of now, about 20% of the “geeks” want less data.

1 month ago

I have no problem with countries setting their own standards but I think some of them are doing more harm than good by setting ridiculous standards and preventing younger swimmers who are on the cusp from getting international experience

1 month ago

As of now, 40% of responders for next weeks poll claim to be an “elite swimmer” 🤔

Sun Yangs Hammer
Reply to  Pineapple
1 month ago

elite is relative. Shame there’s no elite commenter option

The Original Tim
Reply to  Pineapple
1 month ago

It’s like the local 50m pool when they have open lap swim while set up for LCM–they have signs at each lane saying beginner, slow, moderate, and fast. Apparently there are lots of different definitions of “fast” out there…

Reply to  Pineapple
1 month ago

I think a lot of them used to be elite swimmers and still see themselves as such instead of swim geeks. It’s been a looooong time since I was an elite swimmer and still I had a moment where I wanted to click on it 😂 Not by any stretch of the definition is the swimming I do these days ‘elite’ though. Gotta face the reality and categorize yourself as a ‘fan’ instead. 😉

1 month ago

Another factor to keep in mind is that some federations are cheap.

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

Or ……. they have limited funding and they need to obtain the maximum results just to keep the funding at the current level or risk further cuts. Commercial sponsorship $$$ are scarcer on the ground and will almost always gravitate to where they can gain the maximum visibility/exposure in their key markets; and that is generally the major domestic professional sporting leagues.

That’s the reality of most Olympic sports in most countries.

GBR DO terribly overcomplicate their processes and their time standards too often exceed what is “challenging” and become utterly unrealistic. Ditto FRA from time to time. However, they like many other countries have also got “bitten” too often by poor strike rates; not only on medal tables… Read more »

m d e
Reply to  commonwombat
1 month ago

Australian men suffer for depth because we do a terrible job at keeping the near elite age groupers with potential in the sport past the end of high school. Our women remain elite and deep because women athletically are at or near their peak by their late teens, so we don’t lose as many swimmers that could develop into open athletes. So many male swimmers in Australia get lost that in the US would have gone to college and been kept in the sport for an additional 4-5 years.

Reply to  m d e
1 month ago

So true.
funding cuts, no support, no recognition, those eligible for world junior events in 2020 and 2021 completely missing out, and so on. Not a lot of incentive there. It’s amazing we get any male later developers staying in at all.

Reply to  m d e
1 month ago

Correct but only part of the story.

The sheer expense of supporting a competitive swimmer once they reach a certain age and level of achievement is such that the vast majority of top line swimmers now come from a more affluent/private schools demographic. Thus, AUS swimming now has to draw from an ever-contracting talent pool AND with males; there is a wider selection of alternate sports to pursue ….. many of which renumerate far better should they reach the elite level.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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