Swimming Canada Announces Shift to Invitational for Canadian Olympic Trials

Markus Thormeyer; Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant

Swimming Canada announced Monday that the Canadian Olympic Trials for next April will be changed to invitational trials as a way to maintain physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move will offer a maximum of 20 places in each Olympic event at Trials, to be contested as timed finals from April 7-11 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Paralympics Trials will include up to 15 swimmers per event in multi-class timed finals.

“Today we announce some key decisions for 2021, based on the best information we have available. In this global COVID-19 pandemic, we have to make health and safety the priority, along with allowing for the best possible performance from our athletes who will be invited to the Trials,” High Performance Director John Atkinson said in a release.

Due to the limitations in the number of participants, Swimming Canada will re-assess the selection criteria for other international events, including the World Junior Swimming Championships. Teams are usually selected from age-qualified finishers at Trials.

The release includes Swimming Canada’s intention not to field a team for the World University Games, due to be held in Chengdu, China, in August. Open water trials, scheduled for April 17-18 on Grand Cayman Island, are cancelled, with the final representative for the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan, in late May selected via the finish in the 1,500 meters in the pool. More info on the supplemental competitions is here.

Swimming Canada will post a preliminary ranking list of 30 swimmers per event (15 per Paralympic event) by Dec. 22, with a first round of invitations to be sent Jan. 6. To be eligible for an invite, swimmers must be registered with “a Swimming Canada affiliated club in a Competitive registration category” or a “a U SPORTS affiliated University … in a Varsity registration category (Varsity or Varsity Year-Round)” or, for permanent non-resident Canadian swimmers, with Swimming Canada directly. The deadline for those registrations is Dec. 18.

“The primary purpose of the Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials is to select athletes to be nominated to Team Canada for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo,” CEO Ahmed El-Awadi said in the statement. “In a global pandemic, every scenario has its drawbacks, and any event we offer must be done with health and safety as the top priority. By hosting these Trials as an invitational event, it allows us to run a swim meet as safely as possible while giving us the best chance of selecting our Olympic and Paralympic teams as fairly as possible.”

Those limitations lessen Canadian Trials as a possible meet for international swimmers, especially Latin American swimmers based in the U.S., who ordinarily would use it to chase Olympic qualifying standards. A Swimming Canada spokesperson said that the eligibility of non-Canadian swimmers to take part in Trials will be reviewed on a regular basis up until the final invites are sent out.

A review of the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic will he conducted Feb. 15, and Swimming Canada reserves the right to nominate swimmers to the teams via means other than trials, “based on exceptional circumstances.”

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1 year ago

Well that is disappointing for so many athletes and coaches who have worked so hard to make that meet. Why not start by backing the meet up closer to the olympics like many other countries do already. Give the country time to vaccinate and potentially control the virus better.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jen Purvis

Jen Purvis I’m not sure where your from. But that’s a great idea.

1 year ago

Tough decision