Olympics: Where the Best Athletes Don’t Always Compete

The Olympics can only accommodate some of the best athletes in the world. Leaving out many from across the globe.
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Swimming is one of the oldest Olympic sports, having been featured in every modern Games since Athens 1896. The upcoming edition in Paris will see 852 athletes competing for medals at the Paris La Défense Arena.

Swimming first appeared on the Olympic programme at Athens in 1896. Women’s competitions were added in 1912 for the Stockholm Games, where female swimmers competed in just two events.

Highlighting the progress made, at the 2024 Paris Olympics, women and men will be eligible to compete in the exact same programmes, as was the case at Tokyo 2020.

Even with 852 athletes set to compete in Paris for a chance at glory, they may not all be the best athletes in the world. This is due to the qualification rules.

Who will qualify in swimming at the Paris Olympics?

852 athletes will compete in swimming at the Paris Olympics, with a maximum of 26 quotas available to each National Olympic Committee (NOC) for both men and women.

Each NOC can nominate a maximum of two athletes per individual event and one relay team per relay event for both men and women competitions.

There is a four point order of priority for Olympic qualification: those meeting the Olympic Qualification Time (OQT), relay athletes, universality places, and invited athletes meeting the Olympic Consideration Time.

Swimmers who achieve the OQT in a particular event will qualify for the event in Paris, provided the maximum quota for their NOC has not been exceeded. Each country can enter two athletes in an event only if they have met the OQT.

In cases where multiple athletes meet the OQT from the same country, only the top athletes will qualify.

For example, the OQT for the women’s 100m freestyle was 53.61 seconds. Six Australian swimmers had better seed times going into the trials in Brisbane.

Australia had a successful swimming campaign at the Tokyo Games, winning nine golds among 21 medals. Three years later, they are aiming for even greater success at the Paris Olympics.

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