Judicious planning and transparency have been a major hindrance to success to sport in T&T. It is therefore imperative that the Amateur Swimming Association of T&T (ASATT) establishes selection policy and criteria which is based on a determined selection philosophy, with the final product being a fair transparent process of national team selection.
As highlighted in last week's article, FINA points is used to compare the quality of a swim across all swim events. It is therefore a useful tool for ASATT to use to shortlist athletes for various international championships on the 2022 calendar including: Commonwealth Games (CW), World Junior (WJ), World Long Course (WL), and World Short Course (WS) Championships.
This shortlist is generated by creating a minimum standard of FINA points by which an athlete would be considered for selection. The establishment of a shortlist not only informs athletes of the meet and their potential selection, but also allows ASATT to plan for the meet better logistically.
FINA World Seniors
World Long and Short Courses are FINA events and have set A and B qualifying times (QT). TTO may have only two athletes per event provided they are both A qualifiers and FINA provides four spots for TTO regardless of achievement of the QTs.
With Dylan Carter, TTO's sole A qualifier since the retirement of George Bovell III, any swimmer attaining a B time or lower cannot participate in A time events that Carter is swimming unless they have an A time. This does not preclude them from being shortlisted for the meet based on FINA points, but it eliminates their selection. After A and B qualifiers are selected, the remaining swimmers must be selected based on the highest FINA point ranking of the available events and with equity in gender selection.
FINA points and the shortlist
FINA points provides for us a mechanism to assist with selection, assessment and direction. In a subsequent article, we will review some of the issues with T&T swimming which our athletes' FINA points ranking reveal. This shortlist aims to identify athletes who meet the minimum standard to be considered for selection.
The thought process
Commonwealth Games team selection are administered by the Olympic Committee, therefore ASATT in conjunction with TTOC will have to determine a qualification standard. Commonwealth is about 40 per cent the size of Worlds and the setting of standards should reflect this.
From our first semifinalist Laura De Neef in 1966, to our first medallist Carter (2018), T&T has sent 20 swimmers to Commonwealth, with 50 per cent achieving a semifinal place. Therefore, a reasonable consideration time for a swimmer to be shortlisted is 16th place.
The Commonwealth qualifying time should reflect a standard that can give them reasonable probability to get into a final and a high probability for a Top 16 finish. The qualification period for World Long Course in May 2022 starts from March 1, 2020. This can be considered as the starting point for Commonwealth which is in August.
It is therefore proposed:
- The Commonwealth Qualifying Standard (CWQS) is the average of the eighth (818 pts) and 16th place (700) is 759 FINA points
- Commonwealth Consideration Standard (CWCS): Based on the above, CWCS is 700 points
- CWCS is the minimum standard for an athlete to considered to go to Worlds. (WLCS)
- A World Juniors consideration standard of 600 points is adopted as it would represent a similar differential between the Worlds B time and our WLCS.
- With limited opportunities due to pandemic, short course metres may be considered for the shortlist, but team selection must be based on long course times.
Achieving the consideration and qualification standard does not guarantee selection. ASATT and/or TTOC may have quota restrictions for teams in which case athletes will be selected based on the highest FINA points.
Shortlist to Paris 2024
World Long Course in May 2022 is the first major splash on the journey to 2024 Olympics. The year 2023 will see the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games (May), Pan Am Games (October) and World Long Course (November).
ASATT should continue to monitor these shortlisted athletes and eventually narrow the field based on Olympic events while increasing the FINA points requirement.
While there may be differing views to which FINA point is ideal, ASATT must create a fair and transparent process known to all swimmers, coaches, administrators, and other stakeholders, to ensure the best possible Team TTO swimming outfit dons the red, white and black.