Uncertainty prevails over Indian swimmers' London trip

Uncertainty prevails over Indian swimmers’ participation in the London Games with none of them featuring in the initial list of competitors announced by the sport’s governing body FINA on Saturday.

Virdhawal Khade (100M freestyle, 50.34 seconds), Sandeep Sejwal (100M breaststroke, 1:02.23; 200M breaststroke, 2:16.16), Aaron D'Souza (200M freestyle, 1:50:89) and Saurabh Sangvekar (1500M freestyle, 15:34.67) have attained the ‘B’ qualification standard, technically termed as Olympic Selection Time (OST), the minimum requirement for competing at the Olympics, with FINA’s invitation.

FINA on Friday released a list of 439 swimmers who had clocked the ‘A’ standard or the Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) from around 50 countries as confirmed entries for London. The governing body also named the 16 relay teams for each event, except in the men’s 4x100 freestyle where only 15 countries were entered. Besides, it has also allocated Universality Places (for countries to enter one male and one female swimmer if they do not have a qualified swimmer). Since India have swimmers in the OST category, it will not be considered for the 150 Universality Places.

“I am yet to get an official word regarding participation of our swimmers from FINA. The list is not complete yet and the clear picture will emerge in a couple of days time,” said former secretary general of the Swimming Federation of India, Virendra Nanavati, who is a member of FINA’s technical committee. FINA has kept the total number of swimmers for the Olympics games at 900. “Since only 439 OQT and 156 OST swimmers were named by FINA, there are a few more berths available. We are hoping for the best,” pointed out National coach Pradeep Kumar.

Without counting the relay places, 745 spots have already been taken out of the 900. Many competitors in individual events will compete in relays as well and the exact number of vacant berths is not yet clear.

If vacant places are available, which is expected to be known in a few days, FINA will invite the next ranked swimmer in the respective event. As it stands, things look bleak for the Indian swimmers.

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