USA Swimming Overhauls Short Course Worlds Selection Criteria

by Robert Gibbs 12

September 13th, 2016 International, News

According to USA Swimming’s Athlete Selection Procedures document, the 2016 FINA Short Course World Championships team selection will rely on the coach’s discretion, not objective criteria, to pick the team for the meet, which will take place December 6-11 in Windsor, Canada.

This is a marked departure for USA Swimming, which normally follows strict selection priorities with objective criteria to select the teams for international meets.  You can read the full selection procedure document here, but here are the highlights:

  1. Any swimmer who swam in the Olympics, or the A/B finals of Olympic Trials, the US Open, Junior National Championships, or Junior Pan Pacs is eligible.
  2. All professional or post grad swimmers have to either swim in the USA Swimming vs. Big Ten competition, or a World Cup this fall to be selected to the world championships team.
  3. “The selection of the Team will be at the discretion of the National Team Director and the Head Coach in order to field the best team possible.”  There is no list of selection priorities, which normally spells out in exactly what order swimmers will be selected to the team.

The short course world championships are not quite as prestigious as the summer LCM world championships, and traditionally, Team USA hasn’t managed to get all of its big stars to attend the winter meet.  This year’s world championship could be particularly tough for the USA for a couple additional reasons.

First, a lot of the top US swimmers, especially Olympians, are current NCAA swimmers.  Most college teams are having their invitational meets the week before the world championships, and that week-long stretch is also prime time for semester exams.  This could knock individual Olympic gold medalists Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Lilly King, and Ryan Murphy out of short course worlds, plus roughly a dozen other Olympians.

Second, a lot of top swimmers are either retired or suspended.  Gold medalists Michael Phelps and Maya DiRado are retired.  Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte are both suspended by USA Swimming.  While Lochte had a subpar Olympics, by his standards, he’s always been an absolute beast at short course, and even outsplit sprinter Feigen in the 4×50 free relay in 2014 in Doha.  Even a diminished Lochte probably would’ve helped Team USA in Windsor.

Unless a good number of college swimmers do end up attending, the USA is going to have to go pretty deep to find swimmers to fill out all of the events.  For instance, in the men’s 200 fly, top ten swimmers in the US this year (LCM), consisted of the retired Phelps, Tom Shields, and then eight current NCAA swimmers.

Still, we expect we’ll end up seeing plenty of Olympians and other top USA Swimmers competing in Windsor, including recent NCAA swimmers like Missy Franklin and Kelsi Worrell, and stalwarts like Conor Dwyer and Tom Shields.

USA Swimming should be announcing the world championship roster sometime in October.

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Well… ‘The discretion of national team director and head coach’

In other words: if you’d like to compete at the SC Worlds, you need to:
A. Join SwimMAC Elite
B. Commit to swim for ASU
C. Start kissing Busch’s as*


The lack of criteria for selection is absurd. Why send post grads to the Big 10 meet to compete not knowing if their times or place are good enough for selection? Why not select from US Nationals? Swim as hard and fast as you can and hope you get selected!?

Frank Busch needs to re evaluate this.

Hawaii Kai

From the PDF document linked in the article, team members must assemble in Chicago on December 3, en route to Windsor for the World Championships. However, the AT&T Winter Nationals run from November 30 through December 3. The events on the last day of nationals mirror those on the last day of NCAAs, including the 400 free relay.

Since many college teams use winter nationals as their mid-season meet to qualify relays (and individuals) to NCAAs, would that December 3 conflict alone also dissuade the current college swimmers from participating in worlds?

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