USA Swimming has not yet released the formal list of selection criteria for the 2013 World University Games that are to be held in Kazan Russia next summer. They have, however, released the gist of the criteria this week, which gives us a pretty good idea.
First the innocuous. The selections will be made on the basis of this summer’s U.S. Open meet in Indianapolis, athletes born between 1985 and 1996 will be eligible (meaning that the maximum age for athletes will be 28), and the team will leave after next summer’s World Championship Trials (which probably means that the swimmers won’t arrive until after the opening ceremonies). The roster deadline falls before those trials, which is why the teams are being selected this summer.
The same rules apply that an athlete must be a university student (at any level – not necessarily competing in the NCAA) during the 2012-2013 school year.
But here’s the kicker. This year, USA Swimming will limit their roster to no more than 13 men and 13 women, which is roughly half of the 24 and 26, respectively, that they took the 2011 edition of the event.
What that means is that there is likely to only be one American taken to the meet in each event, and very few (if any) relay-only swimmers will be included.
This hugely steps up the pressure on the collegiate Americans, as they will have to be the highest-finishing collegian at the U.S. Open (if you ignore those who will decline in expectation of heading to Worlds).
The rationale behind the shift in strategy is unknown at this point; however this sort of follows a trend of USA Swimming to be apprehensive about sending top-tier swimmers to middle-tier meets, though it’s a big opportunity for athletes to get big-meet experience. Take the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where USA Swimming only begrudgingly sent a squad of junior swimmers, but refused to send their top-tier junior swimmers. Under new National Team Director Frank Busch, it seems as though at least thus far that preference is being continued, if not extended.
No comment has been received from USA Swimming as of the time of posting, but we’ll update when we hear back from them.