PHOENIX, Arizona, December 19. THE European long course swimming championships are generally seen as an afterthought for Great Britain, as the meet typically takes place around the same time as the more important Commonwealth Games. Britain’s selection procedures for the European championships, released today, seem to indicate that Euros will again be a secondary meet in 2014.
A key indicator of the level of importance Great Britain puts on the European championships (held August 18-24) is the absence of strict qualifying times in the selection procedures document for senior swimmers. In order to be considered for the meet, an athlete would have to post a time better than the third-fastest European time in 2014. That’s not an easy feat in some events, such as the women’s 400 free or men’s 100 free. Athletes will have six meets in which to reach those times: the Scottish nationals, the British nationals, the British Open or the three Mare Nostrum meets. The team of no more than 24 athletes will be named on July 1, according to British Swimming.
A small squad of junior swimmers — under 20 years old for males, under 18 for females — will be selected for the meet. Many of these athletes will be picked from the European junior championships, which will be going on July 9-13. British Swimming will select its squad of junior swimmers on July 14.
It’s likely that many of Great Britain’s best won’t be attending the meet in Berlin, unless they indicated to the national head coach that European championships is a “target meet in their annual performance plan.” Some swimmers, such as active athletes Hannah Miley and Fran Halsall, have won European titles while still doing well at the Commonwealth Games, so we could still see some top talent representing Great Britain against countries that have earmarked the European championships as their main international meet of 2014. A carrot for many British swimmers is that the European championships will be held after the Commonwealth Games.
The 2010 European championships featured a near world record in the men’s 100 back by Camille Lacourt and the official international breakout meet for Yannick Agnel. The Commonwealth Games is generally one of the fastest meets of the second year in the Olympic cycle. The 2010 meet was hampered by “Delhi belly,” an intestinal virus that struck many of the top swimmers who did not swim as fast as expected.
British Swimming selection criteria for European championships (in PDF format)