Has Britain Played Smart Game On Rio Relay Rules? London 2016: Bill Furniss Sums Up

2015 world champions (l-r), Calum Jarvis, Dan Wallace, Robbie Renwick and James Guy in Kazan - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Britain head coach Bill Furniss defended an Olympic selection policy that extended its blade beyond Rio 2016 to cut clear medal contenders out of a home European Championships in London last week; will Adam Peaty and James Guy cope with great expectations? “Absolutely”; and as British Swimming CEO praises London 2016, Glasgow comes into focus as 2018 host to the continental showcase in a non-Olympic year on the way to Tokyo 2020.

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There is something rather draconian and authoritarian about restricting swimmers who could have won a European medal from their personal right to enter the competition on merit. Especially for the spurious notion of an event in 2020. In my experience, it is managers who do not handle pressure judgements well, not necessarily the athletes. Of course, if you have absolute rules then you do not have to manage as such. You just apply the rule, call it management and tough it out. That is what has happened in this case. I am all for doing well at the Olympics in 2020 but not for using it as an excuse to treat some of our best international athletes like impersonal and unemotional numbers in the system. This is not a dictatorship and years of graft has earned them the right too compete now, nevermind 2020.


Is the European championships a Olympics qualifying meet for GBR?
If not, is the Olympucs trials the only qualifying meet?


As CharlesB, success in the Olympics is the thing to aim for, but to see for example Pavoni not head to Europeans where he may very well have medalled seems rather shameful to me. Or, as Craig notes and has been discussed before, that Lloyd or Wallace might (“might”) end up in an individual spot for an IM at the Olympics despite not winning national champs – when Pavoni, who beat them, would be at home.
Tancock didn’t make the Olympic team, but what about the 50m Back at Europeans, which obviously isn’t an Olympic event?
Furniss talks also of 2020, but then won’t consider taking improving youngsters (like Dawson).
And that 4×200 relay.. I wonder what the heats line-up will look like. Very dangerous game to be putting in GB swimmers #4,5,6,7 to try and qualify for the final!


stabilo, very risk indeed.. the times of 4, 5,6 and 7 add up to 7:11:74, probably US, Australia, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Brazil, Japan and France can go sub 7:10 which can put GBR in a situation much like the US Kazan disaster and for the same reasons..

Jorge Abril

Craig, what about the GB 4x100m freestyle?

Bob Ballard

The absence of Kathleen Dawson on the team for the Olympics is folly.

Britain has just one women’s 100 backstroker in the squad…if Davies is ill, injured or out of sorts, bang goes the women’s medley relay.

Dawson proved in London she can, and I’m sure will, do a cracking lead off leg.

Time for reconsideration.


As much as I dislike how GBR select their Oympics team with regards to one or two discretionary picks (and one or two swimmers they chose not to take), I think it is more important that they stick to their rules and not change the team along the way just because one or two other swimmers suddenly are swimming better.

And I don’t think the selectors abused their discretionary power, unlike say, the French selectors, who put in stringent standards but when they didn’t work out as well as they hoped they used every bit of discretionary power to select and bring everyone.

This will only result in some moral hazards in the future as swimmers will think they didn’t have to swim fast to meet their national qualifying standards as the selectors will take them anyway.

I think in the long run, GBR system and their compliance of their own rules will work out better.


“Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.” – Douglas Bader.
Maybe better for the long-run, but you can also say that not taking youngsters, improvers, or others who might ‘only’ make the semi-finals is demoralising. I guess we may find out.


GB will win one or two medals. I assume swimming will not be as drugged up as track and field. And if this is the case, the US and Aussies will dominate.


I actually agree with what you said. But if allowances for youngsters and fast improvers were to be made, they should have done it from the beginning and spelled it out in the rules.
As it is, if the selectors use their discretionary powers too much to do so, there would have been protests from others who might have felt they deserved more (and there are already some who may feel they deserve more to be in the team than some of the selected).

Although maybe not as grave as the British, I think the Aussie selectors have also made the similar mistake by not taking Matthew Wilson, the 17 yo who swam 2:09 breast.


The issue was not so much about selection for the Olympics, although, as said by many there should always be a case for a bit of discretion. It is about excluding well qualified individuals from their right to try and win medals at the European championships when they are National Champions with times that indicate that they had every chance of doing so. It is mean spirited and deprives them and their families from a great achievement that they can look back on later in life.


Oh, I totally agree with you, CharlesB!!
I thought it was crazy and very strange that GBR didn’t allow their national champions or any other top swimmers who are not in the Olympics team and 2020 team, while hosting in their own city and country!!

Why did they do that?

man 01

GB uses the trial only for Rio.
Jorge Abril,
I’m nearly sure that they won’t take part in the 4×100 free relay. Look at their team members. There are only 2 guys in it who was inside the first six in 100 free. Scott and Proud. Proud will swim 50m. Scott will swim 100m, and perhaps the 4×200 relay.

Craig Lord

Man 01 – trials were for Rio but also decided what the team for London europeans and the European juniors would be.

Jorge Abril

Thanks man 01, but 2 or 3 guys inside the first six? Renwick?


I just hope what the Brits are doing does not backfire in Rio, They should have used the nationals and Euros to qualify!

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