U.S. 2015 World Championship Team qualifying criteria, and the ‘Pan Pacs Second Chance’

As we begin our preview coverage of the U.S. National Championships, it seems a good time to lay out the selection procedures for the U.S. National Team at the 2015 World Championships, a selection process that begins with the national championships.

The U.S. will select its 2015 Worlds roster based on the results of two meets: the 2014 U.S. National Championships and the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships to take place a few weeks later in Australia. As U.S. Nationals are the selection meet for Pan Pacs, the national championships hold double importance for athletes hoping to earn their spot on the Worlds roster.

The biggest upshot of that two-meet system is this: athletes who qualify for the Pan Pacific Games can enter more events at that meet than they qualify for. That means that if an athlete gets into Pan Pacs in an event or two, he or she can enter extra events in Australia to improve their chances of making the World Championships team. This could be particularly important to versatile athletes like Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin, who could use Pan Pacs to add further events to their World Championships lineup.

You can read the full selection procedures by following this link. As the procedures are long and somewhat complex, we’ve tried to simplify them somewhat below. The major take-home is that the top 2 swimmers in every Olympic event should make the World Championship team, plus the top 4 in the 100 and 200 freestyles, for relay purposes. After those swimmers are added to the roster, the winners of the non-Olympic events that will be swum at Worlds (the 50 back, breast and fly, men’s 800 free and women’s 1500 free) will make the team if spots are still available. Finally, the 5th and 6th overall swimmers in the 100 and 200 frees will be added to compete on the relays. The team is capped off at 26 swimmers for each gender.

One small caveat: to field two swimmers in the same event, both must have hit the FINA “A” cut. You can find those times here, but they typically aren’t a big issue for the U.S. in filling out its roster.

Selection Procedure Priority Order – 2015 World Championships

  • Priority 1: Top 4 athletes in 100 and 200 free, top 1 athlete in each Olympic event added to team
  • Priority 2: 2nd athlete in each Olympic event added to the team
  • Priority 3: Top 1 athlete in each non-Olympic event (50 back/breast/fly, men’s 800 free, women’s 1500 free) added
  • Priority 4: 5th athlete in 100 and 200 free added
  • Priority 5: 6th athlete in 100 and 200 free added

Athletes in each priority are added until the team reaches 26 total swimmers. At that point, the roster is full and the lower priority athletes will not be added. Within a priority group, athletes are selected based on their world rank in the event. So a 50 fly winner ranked 5th in the world will be selected before a 50 back winner ranked 8th.

In summary: Top 2 in each Olympic event, top 4 in 100/200 free and top 1 in each non-Olympic event should make the 2015 Worlds team. 5th-6th in the 100/200 free will potentially make the team.

Caveat: in the individual Non-Olympic events: if the top swimmer in the event is already on the team, the 2nd swimmer doesn’t get to go. However, if the top swimmer in the event declines the invitation to swim the event, the 2nd swimmer does get to go.

The other major point is that members of the 2015 World Championships team will generally be ineligible to swim at World University Games or the Pan American Games, both of which will happen earlier in the summer of 2015. Specific exceptions can be made by the national team staff, but Worlds are the country’s first priority, and USA Swimming will try to keep its team as fresh as possible for it. In terms of selection for other international meets, World University Games is given second priority and the Pan American games third.

Teams for those two competitions will be selected based on the results of US Nationals, with all athletes on the 2015 Worlds team being taken out of the running. That means athletes in the A final of any event this summer will have solid shots at qualifying for an international meet, whether it be Worlds, World U Games or Pan Ams.

At the risk of complicating an already-complex process further, here are plain, bird’s-eye looks at the selection procedures for the latter two meets:

World University Games

  • Team size: 26 men, 26 women
  • Olympic events only
  • Priority 1: Top 4 available swimmers in 100/200 free, top 1 in other Olympic events
  • Priority 2: 2nd available swimmer in each Olympic event
  • Full selection procedures
  • Take home: Top 2 in each Olympic event, top 4 in 100/200 free

Pan American Games

  • Team size: 18 men, 18 women
  • Olympic events only
  • Priority 1: Top 2 available swimmers in 100/200 free, top 1 in other Olympic events
  • Priority 2: 2nd available swimmer in each Olympic event
  • Priorty 3: next available swimmers in 100/200 free as relay-only swimmers
  • Full selection procedures
  • Take home: Top 2 in each Olympic event, extra 100/200 free swimmers added at discretion of USA Swimming

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7 years ago

Can HS Jrs and soon to be Srs qualify for World U’s if they are 17? Or do they actually need to be in college?

Reply to  Billt
7 years ago

Billt – I haven’t seen the official age ranges for 2015, but it should be born between January 1, 1987 and December 31, 1998.

The language about “actually need to be in college” is vague:

eligible athletes are those who, at the time of the Championships are officially registered as proceeding towards a degree or diploma at a university or similar institution whose status is recognized by the appropriate national academic authority of
their country will be considered for the team.


Former students of the institutions mentioned above, who have obtained their
academic degree or diploma in the year preceding the Championships (2012-
2013 school year), will be considered for the team, subject to FISU eligibility

7 years ago

thanks for the clarification concerning those rules ! they look complexe but explained in a short way very understandable .

7 years ago

I can think of a couple of swimmers who may be in danger of NOT qualifying. Thanks for the info

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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