Swimming New Zealand Postpones Olympic Trials, Sets Second Time-Trial Event

Two days after saying that they’d hold their Olympic Trials behind closed doors, Swimming New Zealand reversed course early Tuesday, announcing new dates for the New Zealand Open and a second trials event in light of the coronavirus global pandemic.

The Aon NZ Open Championships, which were set to begin in Auckland March 31, have been moved to early June, per a letter released by Swimming New Zealand CEO Steve Johns. The release pegs the dates as Jun 2-6, with a go/no-go deadline to be made by May 11. If those can’t be held, Swimming New Zealand “will run an Olympic trial event for long-list athletes only” starting June 2. The governing body says it would require FINA approval for an Olympic trial event outside of the NZ Open.

Despite the postponement of the Open Championships, Swimming New Zealand is seeking FINA approval for an event to start March 31 that would amount to time trials for selected swimmers. From the release:

Given the postponement of the Aon NZ Open Championships that were also a FINA approved Olympic qualification event, we will hold an additional Olympic qualification time-trial for long-list athletes in Auckland at the National Aquatic Centre commencing on Tuesday 31 March again subject to FINA approval which we have already sought and expect a positive response within the next 24 hours.  Our President David Gerrard is currently on the FINA Covid-19 taskforce so is at the coalface in terms of FINA’s decision making around changes to Olympic qualification events and is updating us as information is coming to hand. 

Swimmers are able to swim at both events, giving them the best chances possible to qualify for the Olympics. Qualification procedures for other international meets, including the Oceania Championships, LA Invitational and Junior Pan Pacs, will be determined at a later date.

In addition, the New Zealand National Age Group Championships for 2020 are cancelled, as are the Division II Championships and the NZ Secondary School Open Water Championships.

“We totally understand the great impact that the above decisions will have on many of you that have been training and planning to race over the coming months, but we are in unprecedented times requiring unprecedented decisions,” Johns wrote. “The health, safety and wellbeing our swimming community must come first as we navigate our way through these difficult times.”

Extraordinary Events In Swimming History:

Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan have all had major meets affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while in the United States, the NCAA Championships have been cancelled and USA Swimming has imposed a 30-day suspension on all events, while Canada is considering what to do about its Olympic trials early next month. In Italy, where swimmers are struggling to maintain normal routines, can’t get to practice and in some cases find pool time, a #stopolympics campaign was launched by the Nuoto website calling on solidarity among swimming nations to recognise that Olympic preparations have been blown off course and that it would be in the interests of fairness to postpone the Games for a time of calm beyond the coronavirus crisis. 

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