Eric Ress Working to Switch Sport Nationality From France to USA

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 31. ERIC Ress, a dual citizen of France and the United States, confirmed today to Swimming World that he is in the process of switching his sport nationality from France to the United States to dodge a scheduling conflict with next year's French Olympic Trials and the NCAA championships.

The French Olympic Trials and the men's NCAA championships will both be held the third week of March 2012. Luckily, Ress' dual citizenship – he was born in the United States to a French father and American mother – gave him the ability to consider changing sport nationality.

"If the dates (of the French Olympic Trials) had changed, I would love to represent France," said Ress, a member of the French national team since 2008, who added that he has "an obligation" to swim at the NCAAs for Indiana University.

Ress, a runner-up in both backstrokes at this year's NCAAs, has submitted paperwork to FINA and USA Swimming to get the process started. FINA rules stipulate that an athlete must live in the "new" country he wants to represent for at least one year after his last competition with the "old" country. The start date for counting the one-year mark was Aug. 14, 2010, when Ress competed in the 200 backstroke final for France at the European championships, finishing eighth.

This means Ress should get his nationality switched in plenty of time for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. However, it will be 13 days too late for Ress to try for a spot on the USA Pan-American Games roster. That team will be picked at this summer's USA Swimming nationals, which will be held Aug. 2-6.

Ress was selected for France's World University Games team based on his performances at the NCAA championships. But in order to "keep all options open," he declined the invitation. For now, he said, his major competition this summer will be the USA Swimming nationals, where he will only be allowed to compete as high as the B final because he will not yet be approved as an American for sports nationality purposes.

Ress finished 2010 ranked 30th in the world in the 100 back (54.62) and 25th in the world in the 200 back (1:58.54). Eight Americans were ranked ahead of him in the 100 back, while seven were ranked ahead of him in the 200 back. One of those Americans — Aaron Peirsol — is retired. Michael Phelps might not swim either backstroke event at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and Matt Grevers is likely to skip the 200 back next year. Ress knows his chances of making the U.S. Olympic team in the 100 and 200 backstrokes will not be easy.

"It's so difficult to make it in the U.S. with the depth," Ress said. "But, it's better than nothing."

Be sure to watch tomorrow's episode of The Morning Swim Show, in which French Olympian Clement Lefert talks about his unique situation regarding the conflicting schedule of the French Olympic Trials and NCAA championships.

Watch Eric Ress' April 19 interview on The Morning Swim Show.