Photo by Mike Comer
By David Rieder
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, August 17. WITH no World Championships this summer, the focus of the world’s elite swimmers will go towards one of three regional meets, the already-completed Commonwealth Games, the European Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships. Nearly every major swimming powerhouse focuses on one of these meets, so they make perfect venues for determining who would have been the World Champions in this off-year.
Swimming World will unveil this week our “Virtual World Championships.” After one event has been swum at all three meets, we will post the top eight in each event. Rather than simply using world rankings, this method only includes times swum championship finals at one of these four meets in order to replicate as closely as possible the pressure of a World Championships. In addition, only two swimmers per FINA-recognized country will be included in our list. That means that all swimmers representing their home country – England, Scotland, or Wales – at the Commonwealth Games will all be lumped under the British flag.
In 2010, our virtual meet included times from the Pan Pacs B-finals because of the meet’s unique format, namely lack of semi-finals and limits on number of swimmers per country swimming at night. This time, only A-final times will be considered for the World Championship top eight, but we will make note of a B-final time when it would surpass one from the top heat. Also, we will include another version of this list following the Asian Games this fall, since that is the primary focus meet for China and, to a lesser extent, Japan.