After attaining the Olympic selection “B” time for the Women’s 50m freestyle over the weekend, top local female swimmer Cherelle Thompson will be hoping to improve to the automatic qualifying or “A” time to ensure her participation at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Thompson broke her own national record of 25.52 seconds set at the 2019 December Invitational Swimming Championships on her way to a 25.39 second timing in the Women’s 50m free at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sunday.
That swim by the 27-year old Eagles Aquatics swimmer dipped under the 25.51 second Olympic “B” qualifying time .
Her December 25.52 clocking improved on Siobhan Cropper’s 22-year-old mark of 25.89 in the long course (50m) pool.
One month earlier, Thompson, a University of Tennessee graduate, smashed another Cropper mark, this one a 19-year standard (25.32) - for the 50m free, becoming the first local woman to dip under 25 seconds (24.89) at the National Open Short Course (25m) Swimming Championships.
Thompson is still a few tenths off the “A” standard of 24.77 for the women’s 50m free. But unlike an the attainment of the Olympic “A” time, the achievement of an Olympic selection or “B” time does not guarantee Olympic participation.
According to the Olympic qualifying procedure set forth by FINA, the world governing body for aquatic sports globally, the achievement of a “B” time is the fourth and last in order of priority of qualification for the Tokyo Games.
First are all athletes with Olympic Qualifying Times “A” times followed by athletes qualified in relays. Then priority is given to 878 athletes under the “universality places”, carded for swimmers whose national Olympic committee or national federation are without any qualified athletes but who participated in the 18th FINA World Championships. It is only then that FINA opens up qualification for invited athletes who have achieved a “B” time.
By that criteria, Team TTO’s top swimmer Dylan Carter, who splashed to the “A” standard in the Men’s 100m free at the FINA World Championships last July in Gwangju, South Korea, has already guaranteed his ticket to Tokyo.
Fortunately, Thompson still has time to chop her personal best down to the “A” standard. Thompson is ranked 24th in the world in the 50 free this year, tied with Great Britain’s Isabella Hindley. However, over the entire qualifying period so far, she is ranked 108th.
The qualifying period for Tokyo, which opened on March 1, 2019, closes on June 29.
“Following the end of the qualification period and in the event that the quota of 878 athletes is not reached, FINA will assess the number of athletes having achieved the “A” time, the number of relay-only athletes and the number of universality places,” the FINA qualifying procedure document states. “FINA will then invite athletes who have achieved a “B” time, until the total quota of 878 athletes is reached.”
Those B time places will be distributed by event, according to the position on the FINA World ranking as of June 29, 2020.