Think the French Rio-Qualifying Times Are Tough? Check Great Britain’s

The French Elite Nationals are currently underway in Montpellier, where through 4 days of competition just 4 Olympic-qualifying marks have been achieved by the highly-talented pool of swimmers competing over the 6-day affair.

Whereas previous Olympic time standards fell more in line with the FINA A cuts, we’ve covered the fact that FFN has created stringent Olympic selection criteria for its athletes this time around. France’s 2016 Rio standards are significantly swifter than past Games, with men’s times sitting around 2% faster than FINA’s “A” standards, while women’s times are 2-3% faster.

However, for all the attention given to the French standards, let’s not forget that one nation’s Rio qualification times are set even faster – those of Great Britain. The fact that 5 of the men’s and 1 of the women’s British Olympic-qualifying cuts to sit inside of their own national records is highly ambitious and speaks to how competitive Great Britain truly wants its roster to be.

Although GBR has seen several key athletes perform in a dominant way in recent history, such as Adam Peaty with his world record-breaking 100m breaststroke swim from 2015 British Championships and James Guy with his 200m freestyle victory at the World Championships, the team as a whole is still relatively young and just at the start of its seemingly upward trajectory on the international medal-contending scene.

GBR Trials are scheduled to take place at the Tollcross International Swimming Center April 12th – 17th. The GB selection policy states that the ‘first place finisher in the open final of each individual Olympic event will be selected, subject to the athlete recording a time that equals or betters the qualifying time list.’ In our grids below, this ‘qualifying time’ is identified by the column ‘British 1st Place’ (i.e., 24.37 for women’s 50m freestyle).

With the French standards known to be wickedly faster than the FINA A cuts, we’ve included them in the grids below as a point of comparison to the British standards right beside. For all but a few of both women’s and men’s events, the British ‘1st place’ time standard is notably quicker than its corresponding French time.

Taking it one step further, in the women’s events, the ‘1st place’ mark in the 200m breaststroke (2:22.08) is faster than the current national record, which sits at 2:23.82.

As for the men, the 100m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200 butterfly and 200m IM qualification cuts all sit faster than the GBR national records as follows:

100 freestyle cut – 48.16, NR – 48.20
200 backstroke cut – 1:55.13, NR – 1:55.58
100 butterfly cut – 51.24, NR 51.41
200 butterfly cut – 1:54.46, NR – 1:54.58
200 IM cut – 1:56.82, NR – 1:57.12

Women French British 1st Place British Consideration
50 Free 24.67 24.37 24.23
100 Free 53.72 53.68 52.84
200 Free 1:56.78 1:55.88 1:55.06
400 Free 4:05.64 4:04.66 4:02.56
800 Free 8:24.47 8:22.93 8:17.18
100 Back 59.48 59.05 58.52
200 Back 2:08.44 2:08.21 2:06.01
100 Breast 1:06.93 1:06.43 1:05.63
200 Breast 2:23.78 2:22.08 2:21.92
100 Fly 57.67 57.44 56.58
200 Fly 2:06.62 2:06.51 2:05.64
200 IM 2;10.60 2:10.19 2:08.33
400 IM 4:35.40 4:35.46 4:31.15


Men French British 1st Place British Consideration
50 Free 21.82 21.84 21.51
100 Free 48.13 48.16 47.65
200 Free 1:46.06 1:45.91 1:44.59
400 Free 3:46.66 3:44.81 3:43.50
1500 Free 14:57.19 14:55.11 14:42.70
100 Back 53.29 52.99 52.42
200 Back 1:56.13 1:55.13 1:53.64
100 Breast 59.84 59.38 59.03
200 Breast 2:09.65 2:08.52 2:07.90
100 Fly 51.61 51.24 50.8
200 Fly 1:56.13 1:54.46 1:53.75
200 IM 1:58.09 1:56.82 1:56.07
400 IM 4:13.29 4:12.08 4:08.74

Worth noting, is that GBR’s selection criteria does carry a caveat of sorts, where as the National Performance Director and Head Coach may collaborate using rankings, described below, and other ‘considerations’ to exercise discretion in enabling additions to the roster, up to a maximum of 6 athletes.

Consideration for selection of additional athletes will be given to swimmers ranked inside or closest to (in percentage terms) times listed as ‘British Consideration’ in our grids below. The procedures clearly stat that the NPD and Head Coach shall have the option of selection further athletes, but are not obliged to do so.

There is some additional language as to how things will be handled in the event of a tie, where 2 or more swimmers carry the same % difference to the ‘British Consideration’ standards, but the bottom line is that the qualification process is tough. Very tough.

Everyone better bring their A game to Glasgow when Trials start on April 12th.

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7 years ago

Automatic qualifying times are the world top 6 ranked swim as at the end of Kazan last year. It was the same system on 2015 and GB sent 30 to worlds so I expect a team at least in the high 20s as the 2% rule, relays and discretionary picks will bulk it up.

It’s all explained in detail here:

7 years ago

and if the top 2 somehow miss the BRITISH FIRST PLACE TIMES but are both within 2 percent of the BRITISH CONSIDRATION TIMES which is what Ian posted. They both qualify.

7 years ago

Thomaslurzfan and crawler, Ian is right, the times he posted are what the British are using. They used the same policy in Kazan.

Let me explain, the British qualification system has a first plan and a backup plan.

The first plan uses the BRITISH FIRST PLACE TIMES which you see in the first column of the table. These times are tough but some swimmers will make the times.
Now for swimmers who came first but didn,t make the BRITISH FIRST PLACE TIME and for those who came second to first place swimmers who made the BRITISH FIRST PLACE TIME, there is a backup plan for these two sets of swimmers.

THE BACK UP PLAN ( plan 2)
The… Read more »

7 years ago

These Brtish minima are really very tough. In sprint they are equivalent to a bronze medal, perhaps better. Not sure the rationale behind that. Also, I wonder how athletes will train to peak in early in the year (April) and again in August.

7 years ago

Will peaty swim the 200 breast? He did in trials last year successfully, but then it didn’t work out at worlds.

Forgotten Swimmer
7 years ago

I hate these directors thinking they’re smarter than the natural process.

Canada’s selection for Kazan last year was set tough so the swimmers would “raise their standards” according to the High Performance Director.
But he left himself an out by stating – swimmers who didn’t qualify could be chosen at his discretion to “enhance the relays”.

Of course there were no relays to enhance so few swimmers “raised their standards” at trials to qualify.

But then swimmers were chosen to “enhance the relays” and when they got to Russia they were put in individual events because they qualified according to FINA times. Selection could have been – winner goes – would have been the same team.

Santo Condoreli didn’t… Read more »

Jay ryan
7 years ago

I believe that these European Federations post absurd qualifying times to allow for wiggle room for political manipulation of the selection process. Downright un-American, if you ask me!

7 years ago

I’m kind of a new fan to international swimming. Do a lot of other countries select their olympic team via time cuts as opposed to a performance at olympic trials like in the U.S.

Reply to  swamfan
7 years ago

German athletes for example have to swim the time that corresponds to the 12th place from the last world championships at the national championships and finish top 2 to qualify, which in my opinion is pretty fair. There isnt really an european nation with enough depth to adapt the american trials system. I think there are very few events where 3 athletes from the same european nation could all swim a world class time. Most european nations set up qualifying times that are faster than the FINA standards and if more than 2 athletes swim the time at the national championships, then the two first placed finishers qualify. In the US you dont need those “national standards”, because the two… Read more »

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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