It’s an amazing feeling getting that selection notification, even for the swimmers that had already qualified last week just to get that official confirmation. I remember all those feelings, it’s such a special day for them all to know they’re going to represent their country at the Olympic Games. For some of the team it’s their second or third Olympics, but for many it’s their first Olympics. Either way it’s a massive confidence boost for all of them. The fact that it’s a small team will probably give them an even greater boost, they know their spot on the team is worth something especially with the fact we could have had 30 places and we’ve chosen to only select 26.
There were a few selections that may surprise people, I was even surprised by some. Some of them didn’t race well last week, but being world champions last year I think the selectors have recognised they need some depth to cover what is a great medal winning event for GB.
People will question why there wouldn’t be back up swimmers for the medley relays spots, the justification looks to be that in those relays we simply can’t afford to rest our top swimmers or else we may miss finals. There is a new ruling this Olympics that anyone selected in a team has to swim either in a heat or a final. So all of our men’s 4×200 relay reserves selected have to swim the heats. I think this is our only relay team that’s good enough to afford being able to rest our top swimmers.
I’ve experienced first-hand the impact of not picking strong relays for heats, the end result being we missed the final in the 4×200 relay in Beijing which then had a negative effect on the whole team. They don’t want to risk doing that again unless the reserve swimmers are capable of swimming as fast as the rested swimmers.
In the individual events, the frontrunners like Adam Peaty and James Guy give me the confidence that they provide the backbone to a really strong team. Then you have some newbies that many haven’t heard of before like Chloe Tutton who stepped up at the trials last week. I was particularly pleased for Jaz Carlin, I know how much this means to her after missing London in 2012.
I was a little surprised at some of the swims last week, I thought they were going to be quicker. Even swimmers I expected to really put it out there didn’t do so compared to the Australian trials and other trials around the world which were just so quick. I’d like to think our swimmers are still working really hard with plenty of improvement in there to peak at the right time at the Olympic Games. I’m sure there’s some disappointed swimmers who didn’t make the team, for the younger ones in particular I can only encourage them to use this to go on and achieve greater things on their journey to Tokyo in 2020.
The next step for this British team is the European Championships in London from May 16-22, it’ll be a great experience for all of these swimmers even though they’ll all be training through the championships. It’s also a great opportunity for swimming fans to come and see this team in action and to learn about some of the newer faces on the team. I really hope the public gets behind the team at Europeans and supports them on their journey to Rio in our very own Olympic pool.
I’m sure all our swimmers have their sights set on getting into finals and medals in Rio. A massive congratulations to all of them on being selected, it’s such a massive thing to represent your country and especially at the Olympics which is the pinnacle for any swimmer.