Swim Ireland ‘Exploring All Options’ after FINA Rescinds Olympic Invite for Medley Relay

Brendan Hyland - Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

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Swim Ireland is “exploring all options” after the nation’s men’s 400 medley relay was abruptly uninvited to the Tokyo Olympics Monday.

The men’s medley relay had on Saturday received an invitation from FINA to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. But that was rescinded via a letter Monday.

“Our intention is to challenge the decision and we are currently exploring all options in this regard,” Swim Ireland said in a statement. “The invitation for Ireland to compete in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle relay is unaffected. The Tokyo Olympic Games will be the first time since 1972 that Ireland has competed in a swimming relay and the first time ever that an Irish male relay team will compete.”

The Irish team had clocked in at 3:34.62 in the medley relay at the European Championships in May with the team of Shane Ryan, Darragh Greene, Brendan Hyland and Jack McMillan. They had been informed that that time was adequate to get one of the four at-large spots in Tokyo. (Twelve relay spots go to qualifiers from the 2019 World Championships; the other four are doled out to the fastest times posted at approved meets before the end of May.)

But when Ireland was informed that it was included, FINA had apparently overlooked times from the Akropolis Swimming Grand Prix, a sanctioned meet by LEN, that was held May 28-30. At that meet, the team of Apostolos Christou, Konstantinos Meretsolias, Andreas Vazaios and Kristian Golomeev went 3:34.61, which edged the Irish by .01. (Christou, Meretsolias, Vazaios and Stefanos Dimitriadis had been 3:37.06 at Euros.) For what it’s worth, video of the Greek’s race does exist online:

The same issue came up in the mixed medley relay. At the Akropolis Grand Prix, the team of Christou, Meretsolias, Anna Ndoutounaki and Nora Drakou clocked in at 3:45.38. That time bumped the Swiss squad (3:46.16) out of the last spot. Greece went 3:49.21 at Euros with Evangelos Makrygiannis in for Christou. The Hellenic Swimming Federation, which overseas Greek swimming, apparently informed FINA of the oversight.

Swim Ireland High Performance director Jon Rudd is vowing to challenge the change, in part because it would leave Hyland staying home from Tokyo.

“We won’t be leaving this unchallenged – we celebrated on Saturday and the following day we were offered a fairly weak apology,” Rudd told the BBC. “We are going to fight their corner.”