Lithuania Loses Relay-Only Swimmer, Will Need To Use Breaststroker In Men’s 4×200 Free

The Lithuanian men’s 4×200 free relay will be forced to use a breaststroker at the Paris Olympics after they qualified.

LTU Aquatics, the governing body of Lithuanian water sports, received an official letter from World Aquatics informing them that one member of the Lithuanian team who was slated to compete in the relay will not be eligible to compete due to Olympic roster quotas.

The Lithuanian men qualified for the 4×200 free relay by placing 7th at the 2024 World Championships (7:11.57), and bettered their performance at the European Championships last month in 7:08.04, winning the gold medal in a new National Record.

That quartet was comprised of Tomas Navikonis, Tomas Lukminas, Kristupas Trepocka and Danas Rapsys.

Relays qualified for the Games are given two relay-only swimmers, and Lithuania was initially granted a third relay-only spot as they only had two swimmers having qualified for the Games individually (Danas Rapsys and Aleksas Savickas).

However, after Andrius Sidlauskas qualified in the men’s 100 breast at the European Championships, Lithuania lost the third discretionary relay swimmer, and will now need to use a breaststroker, either Savickas and Sidlauskas, if they want to race the relay in Paris.

World Aquatics notified LTU Aquatics of this change: “We commend Lithuania’s achievement in qualifying for the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay in Paris 2024 and for being the champion in this event at the recent European Aquatics Championships 2024.

“This milestone reflects a momentous opportunity for Lithuania to showcase its competitive edge at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France.

“However, we must respectfully inform you that the established quota places and the Qualification System for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 do not provide World Aquatics any flexibility.

“As outlined in the Qualification System, the consideration for offering additional Relay-Only athlete quota places to the NOC was to help the NOC solely for the purpose of enabling the relay team to participate in the relevant event, provided that the NOC does not have a sufficient number of qualified athletes with OQTs and invited athletes through OCT invitations.

“This was the guiding principle for World Aquatics’ considerations. Given that the rules and quotas are designed to ensure fairness and consistency for all participating NOCs, we are obligated to comply with these regulations without exception.”

Sidlauskas commented on the situation, stating that he’s “uncomfortable” swimming the relay as someone who only trains breaststroke.

“This is a very unpleasant surprise,” he said. “Four swimmers trained all season, competed for a place in the team that should swim at the Olympics, and now they learned that one of them will not be able to do so, despite having earned the right.

“It is sad for the young athletes who experienced such a blow even after becoming European champions. They were contenders for the Olympic final. This would have meant a lot for Lithuanian sports.

“Now, hoping for any better result when three athletes swim freestyle and one trains only in breaststroke is simply naive and unprofessional. I am uncomfortable having to swim in a relay I am not
related to.

“Of course, I will do my best, but it is absurd because conditions should be the same for all participants. The saddest thing is that all of Lithuania’s hopes of achieving the best historical result in the relay are shattered even before the start.”

Rapsys commented” “It is sad that, having the strongest relay lineup in our swimming history, we will not be able to utilize it at the Olympic Games.

“I saw with my own eyes how hard my teammates worked to showcase their abilities and to earn the right to compete at the Olympics. And now, despite having earned that right, we will not be able to reveal our full potential or achieve the best result. Is that the essence of the Olympic spirit?”

The head of LTU Aquatics, Saulius Binevičius, says they are considering the possibility of appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

He said, “I have never encountered such a violation of sports principles.

“Our team is deeply unsettled because we were prepared to achieve our highest goals at the Olympic Games.

“The well-being of our athletes is critical, as it is clear that we will not be allowed to pursue those goals. Kristupas Trepočka, who’s progress recently increased dramatically and who became the European Junior Champion just a few days ago, had to be told that the Olympic doors are being slammed in his face this year. Can you imagine how he feels? We will appeal to all countries that have faced the same fate.”

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6 days ago

Free my boy Ohio star ⭐️ Navi

Last edited 6 days ago by Dude
7 days ago

so how many countries are in this event?

Eddie Rowe
7 days ago

Having Olympic quotas at all is a bit of a farce with “sports” like breakdancing being included this year.

Reply to  Eddie Rowe
7 days ago

What makes breakdancing not a sport, but explain it without referencing your age.

Challenge level: impossible.

Reply to  swimapologist
7 days ago

Well it just doesn’t seem like it fits with the…atmosphere at the Olympics?

I always thought of the Olympics being for more developed sports.

Also another problem is once you add niche things like breakdancing, why not add other types of dancing? It quickly gets overwhelming.

I don’t see how age has anything to do with this, I imagine I’m on the younger side of swimswam commenters and I’m against breakdancing as a oly sport.

Reply to  Eddie Rowe
7 days ago

Each host country / city have the option of recommending a few sports, some of those get to participate and might only be in the Olympics for 1 Olympic Game. Some of the sports in Paris might not every show up again and some might become permanent, in LA we will have flag football – a team sport. Adding a team sport risk reducing the quotas for other sports so swimming and Track might have fewer spots in LA than in Paris.

Reply to  Dan
7 days ago

Paris should’ve added boules/bocce instead of breaking.

7 days ago

Whether the rule is appropriate is one thing, but not knowing the rule is Lithuanian Swimming Association’s own fault. The qualification procedure was published about two years ago. It’s written clearly in it how many relay-only swimmers you could bring given the number of relays you qualify in. It’s not even a new rule. The same rule applies in Tokyo and in Rio (I didn’t know about earlier Olympics but I assume its history is much longer).

Reply to  etsan
7 days ago

Read the rule again, especially relay exceptionals part. Ir has been modified due to WC Doha, to encourage teams to come and compete for relay qualiffication. Much less teams would go there in February if not relay qualiffications. Relay exceptionals were added as ‘help’ for the teams not having enough athletes qualified. They just refused to give Lithuania relay exceptional. Argument – OQT breaststroke. If no brastroke OQT’s, Lithuania would have the realy exceptional place. They (we) were punished for having strong breaststroker. I wonder if he will swim freestyle or brestroke in Olympics.

Last edited 7 days ago by Anonymous
7 days ago

What’s the point of inviting Top 16 relay teams if they can’t select their best team.

8 days ago

Oh come on! U have more than a year to showcase your ability to beat OQT, but fail to do so. And now you blame the rule?? Insane

Reply to  Jason
7 days ago

Turkye and Slovenia girls also. But they got relay exceptionals.

Reply to  Anonymous
7 days ago

Think exceptions are given if you do not have swimmers with individual invites.

Reply to  Dan
7 days ago

You are 100% right. WA could tell this in Fukuoka. Lithuania already had 2 OQTs there. Despite this, they communicated that the decision would depend on available quotas. WA actions contradict their statements about having no flexibility on this (quotas for Turkye and Slovenia) and the purpose of exceptional quotas. They kept the decision for the last day, despite 2 and later 3 OQTs reached by Lithuania.

Kurt Mills Hanson
8 days ago

champions of europe make it make sense.

8 days ago

The writing is on the wall: 2028 it will be 24 roster cap.

Reply to  ZThomas
8 days ago

It is a shame that some of the pillars of olympic competition like swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics and others are losing spots to some of the incredibly dumb sports they have added and continue to add.

3 on 3 basketball? This would be the equivalent of adding ice swimming

Soon swimming will be in the same boat as weightlifting where some of the dominant nations leave gold medal contenders at home because they can only send 3 athletes across 6 categories.

Reply to  Riccardo
7 days ago

Couldn’t agree more. I think the IOC keeps adding ridiculous sports as a way to make the Olympics more appealing to certain niche groups of people. Bit imo it just makes the Olympics seem more gimmicky and takes away from the main Olympic sports

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