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How Fast Do You Have To Swim To Qualify for Olympic Games Swimming

2012 Olympic Games Swimming Qualifying Standards

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How fast does a swimmer need to be to make it to the Olympic games? It is a little different for each nation, but the FINA standards and qualifying procedures must be met. USA Swimming sets time standards for the USA Swimming Team Olympic Trials Swim meet.

The FINA time standards consist of an Olympic Qualifying Time and an FINA/Olympic Invitation Time. FINA By-Law 9.3.6 establishes the qualifying system for the swimming portion of the World Championships and Olympics, including the selection order for those swimmers who meet the Invitation time, but not the Qualifying time. To have two swimmers in an event at the Olympics, both swimmers must have achieved the Olympic Qualifying Standard.

2012 Olympic Swimming Qualifying Standards (Long Course Meters)

Event - Olympic Qualifying / Olympic Invitation / USA Swimming Olympic Trials
  • Women
  • 50 Free - 25.27 / 26.15 / 26.39
  • 100 Free - 54.57 / 56.48 / 57.19
  • 200 Free - 1:58.33 / 2:02.47 / 2:03.19
  • 400 Free - 4:09.35 / 4:18.07 / 4:19.39
  • 800 Free - 8:33.84 / 8:51.82 / 8:50.49
  • 100 Back - 1:00.82 / 1:02.95 / 1:03.99
  • 200 Back - 2:10.84 / 2:15.42 / 2:17.99
  • 100 Breast - 1:08.49 / 1:10.89 / 1:12.19
  • 200 Breast - 2:26.89 / 2:32.03 / 2:35.99
  • 100 Fly - 58.70 / 1:00.75 / 1:01.99
  • 200 Fly - 2:08.95 / 2:13.46 / 2:16.49
  • 200 IM - 2:13.36 / 2:18.03 / 2:19.49
  • 400 IM - 4:41.75 / 4:51.75 / 4:55.89
  • Men
  • 50 Free - 22.11 / 22.88 / 23.49
  • 100 Free - 48.82 / 50.53 / 51.49
  • 200 Free - 1:47.82 / 1:51.59 / 1:52.89
  • 400 Free - 3:48.92 / 3:54.13 / 3:59.99
  • 1500 Free - 15:11.83 / 15:43.74 / 15:53.59
  • 100 Back - 54.40 / 56.30 / 57.59
  • 200 Back - 1:58.48 / 2:02.63 / 2:04.99
  • 100 Breast - 1:00.79 / 1:02.92 / 1:04.69
  • 200 Breast - 2:11.74 / 2:16.35 / 2:20.79
  • 100 Fly - 52.36 / 54.19 / 55.29
  • 200 Fly - 1:56.86 / 2:00.95 / 2:03.99
  • 200 IM - 2:00.17 / 2:04.38 / 2:06.59
  • 400 IM - 4:16.46 / 4:25.44 / 4:30.49

FINA By-Law 9.3.6

BL 9.3.6.4 For each individual event at the Olympic Games, the FINA Bureau will establish Standard Entry Times of two types: an "Olympic Qualifying Time" and a "FINA/Olympic Invitational Time," of which the "FINA/Olympic Invitational Time" shall be easier to achieve. Standard entry times can only be achieved in competitions approved for that purpose by FINA.

For each individual event at the Olympic Games, each National Federation/NOC may enter a maximum of two (2) competitors. To enter two swimmers in the same event, both of them must have achieved the "Olympic Qualifying Time." To enter one swimmer in an event, the competitor must have achieved at least the "FINA/Olympic Invitational Time," and be invited by FINA to compete.

Swimmers who achieve the "Olympic Qualifying Time" in one or more individual events are automatically qualified to participate in the Olympic Games.

Swimmers who achieve the "FINA/Olympic Invitational Time" are eligible to be invited to participate in the Olympic Games. FINA will invite swimmers with FINA/Olympic Invitational Times to participate based upon the following:

In individual events, swimmers will be ranked in one list from highest to lowest based on the FINA Points Table, valid from 1 January 2012, from the results achieved in FINA-approved Olympic qualifying competitions without consideration to gender, stroke or distance.

After determining the number of swimmers who have achieved the Olympic Qualifying Time, the number of swimmers entered in relays and the number of swimmers of National Federations/NOCs who have not achieved either Standard Entry Time based on BL 9.6.3.5, swimmers with the FINA/Olympic Invitational Times may be invited. The invitation will be extended based on the FINA Points Table, with those with the highest ranking invited first. The number of invitations will be determined by the athlete quota established by the International Olympic Committee.

BL 9.3.6.5 National Federations/NOCs with no swimmers who have achieved either Standard Entry Time may enter one (1) man and one (1) woman. National Federations/NOCs with no swimmers who have achieved the "Olympic Qualifying Time," but with one (1) or more swimmers who have achieved the "FINA/Olympic Invitation Time" and who are not invited by FINA to participate, may enter the swimmer whose performance has the highest rank according to the FINA Points Table, valid from 1 January 2012, from the results achieved in FINA-approved competitions without consideration to gender, stroke or distance.

Provided that the swimmer(s) participated in the 14th FINA World Championships - Shanghai 2011; and, FINA decides to invite their participation in the Olympic Games based on their performance.

BL 9.3.6.6 In the Olympic Games, not more than sixteen (16) teams can be entered in each relay competition. The top twelve (12) finishers at the 14th FINA World Championships - Shanghai 2011 shall be qualified based upon the results achieved. The four (4) other teams shall be selected by FINA on the basis of the fastest times achieved in the fifteen-month period before the Olympic Games in competitions approved for that purpose by FINA. If any qualified teams are not able to participate for any reason, available slots will be filled on the basis of next fastest times achieved in the fifteen-month period before the Olympic Games in competitions approved for that purpose by FINA. Individual times may not be aggregated for relay qualification purposes.

Each National Federation/NOC may enter only one (1) team in each relay event. All swimmers entered in individual events can be used in relays, even if they have not achieved the FINA/Olympic Invitational Time for the corresponding stroke and distance of the relay in which they are entered.

Each National Federation/NOC may enter additional swimmers for relays only, provided that they have achieved the "FINA/Olympic Invitational Time" for the corresponding stroke and distance of the relay in which they are entered.

BL 9.3.6.7 The composition of a relay team may be changed between heats and finals of an event.

BL 9.3.6.8 The names of swimmers actually swimming on a relay must be submitted at least one hour before the start of the session in which the event is to take place, in the order in which they are to swim. BL 9.3.6.9 Each Member may enter a maximum number of twenty-six (26) men and twenty-six (26) women swimmers.

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