PHOENIX, Arizona, September 26. USA Swimming has released its new qualifying standards for its 2012-13 Grand Prix Series. In an effort to reduce the number of entrants and keep competition levels high, the qualifying standards are considerably faster and the athlete cap much lower.
For the first time, qualifying times are divided into “A” and “B” cut time standards. USA Swimming swimmers with “A” cut standards have the opportunity to enter into the meet a week before swimmers with a “B” cut. Once the “B” cuts open, qualifying swimmers then enter on a first-come, first-server basis. If the meet's athlete cap has already been filled with swimmers qualifying under the “A” cut standard, then “B” cut swimmers will not be able to compete in their events.
Should the athlete cap still remain unfilled after both “A” and “B” cut athlete entries open, foreign athletes with either an “A” or “B” cut may be entered on a first-come, first-serve basis 24 hours after the “B” cut entries open for USA Swimming swimmers.
In a final caveat, swimmers, both USA Swimming and foreign, who are ranked top 50 in the world at some time in the 24 months prior to the Grand Prix meet are exempt from the athlete entry cap. They may enter the meet before the entry deadline in any event they have at least a “B” cut standard in.
To add a point of comparison, this year's Grand Prix “A” cut qualifying standards are nearly a second-per-hundred-meters faster than the 2012 Olympic Trials qualifying standards, for both the men's and women's standards.
The women's 100 freestyle Grand Prix “A” cut qualifying standard, at a 56.39, would place a swimmer 40th at the Olympic Trials. Comparing meets, the majority of the “A” cut standards for the Grand Prix meets (at least in LCM) fall right about at the time of 40th place swimmer at Trials.
Lowering the time standards and athlete caps more than likely comes as a direct result of the overcrowding at a number of USA Swimming's national-level meets. At last year's Indianapolis Grand Prix meet, an excessive number of athlete entrants caused the meet directors to host a separate meet that same weekend. Held in Purdue, the meet was used as an “overflow” to combat crowding at the Grand Prix, held at the IU Natatorium.
Similar overcrowding sentiments were voiced at this year's Olympic Trials; nearly 2,000 athletes competed at the meet.
For the complete listings of the qualifying standards for USA Swimming's Grand Prix Series, click on the following link: USA Swimming Grand Prix Time Standards