Swimming at Tokyo 2020: What are the various means of qualification? 

Sajan Prakash, Srihari Nataraj and Maana Patel are the three swimmers who will represent India in swimming at Tokyo 2020
By Samrat Chakraborty

India will field three swimmers - Sajan Prakash (men’s 200m butterfly), Srihari Nataraj (men’s 100m backstroke) and Maana Patel (women’s 100m backstroke) - at Tokyo 2020, which gets underway from July 23 2021.

Prakash and Nataraj made history last week as they became the first Indian swimmers to qualify for the Olympics with an ‘A’ mark. Both the Indian swimmers booked their berth in Rome, which hosted the last Olympic qualification event for swimming.

Meanwhile, Patel will made her Olympic debut at Tokyo as she was awarded the Universality quota.

We look at what are the various means of qualification for swimming at the Olympics:

What is 'A' standard qualification in swimming?

The 'A' standard qualification assures a direct or automatic qualification for the swimmer at the Olympics, termed as Olympic Qualification Timing (OQT).

It is awarded to the swimmers, across categories, who breach the set timing for qualification (OQT).

Sajan Prakash was the first-ever Indian swimmer to achieve the 'A' qualification mark. The 27-year-old posted a timing of 1:56.38 in 200m butterfly, at the Sette Colli Championships on 26 June. He breached the A qualifying mark of 1:56.48 for Tokyo 2020.

A day later, Srihari Nataraj went under the A mark as well with a 53.77-second finish in a 100m backstroke time trial at the (the qualifying time was 53.85s). It was a time trial requested by the Swimming Federation of India and the International Swimming Federation (FINA) ratified it on Wednesday.

What is 'B' standard qualification in swimming?

The 'B' standard qualification doesn't assure direct or automatic qualification for the swimmers at the Olympics. However, it puts a swimmer in fray to participate at the Games. It is termed Olympic Standard Timing (OST) and is generally a bit lower timing than the OQT.

A swimmer with this qualification standard will be allowed to participate in their particular event at the Olympics only if the total quota is not met at the end of qualification period.

Apart from Prakash and Nataraj, who breached the A mark, four Indian swimmers had met the B qualifying mark: Virdhawal Khade (50m freestyle, 22.44s), Kushagra Rawat (800m freestyle, 8:07.99), Aryan Makhija (800m freestyle, 8:07.80) and Advait Page (800m freestyle, 8:00.76)

What is Universality quota in swimming mean?

The Universality quota allows one male and one female swimmer from a country to participate at the Olympics.

It should, however, be noted that a country cannot apply for a Universality quota in case a swimmer of the same gender has qualified for the Olympics or received a FINA invite based on his or her Olympic Selection time (B time).