The big buzz on Wednesday at the USA Swimming convention in Greensboro, North Carolina is the beginning of a finalized plan for 2016 Olympic qualifying.
The 2016 Olympic Trials, that will determine the team for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are tentatively scheduled from July 4th through July 11th, though there are still a few hoops to jump through to set that in stone. It seems as though, in early returns, new National Team Director Frank Busch isn’t backing any plans to move the trials any earlier. That timing is about the same as we saw ahead of the London Olympics in 2012, as the Rio Games start a week later.
The qualifying standards for the Olympic Trials are still two years away. They will be announced in September of 2014, with the qualifying period going back retroactively to July 30th of that year.
Note that these “standards” are not necessarily going to be times. According to a member of the House of Delegates who was at today’s Senior Development Committee meeting, Busch left the impression that he is leaning toward the 2016 Trials standard being a number of athletes rather than a specific qualifying time. This would stir up plenty of debate both to the pro and the negative, so expect much shouting to be done before that becomes set in stone.
Still, if enacted, it would rattle the swimming community and create a new sort of twinge of competitiveness, where the competition is not just against a number, but literally against beating the guy next to you to ensure you’re higher on the rankings than them. The contrarian view would be that it leaves a lot of uncertainty, and doesn’t allow athletes to hit a standard and then time out their tapers for Trials perfectly.
No discussion yet on possible 2016 trials hosts. There will be a lot of sentiment for the host of this event, Greensboro, who has already announced their candidacy.
Also, in 2014 Junior Nationals will be held before Nationals, so as to allow a more natural buildup. These standards will be the same as what they have been in 2012.
The full Quad Plan, that lays out the path ahead to the 2016 Olympics, can be read here.
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