What you need to know about the 2021 British Swimming Selection Trials

The British Swimming Championships have been rebranded for 2021 as Team GB aim to name European Championships and Olympic teams.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

After its cancellation last year, the British Swimming Championships make their return – in a modified form – 12 months after they were due to take place.

This year, due to Covid restrictions, the event has been adjusted by British Swimming, which has also renamed the event the 2021 British Swimming Selection Trials.

Athletes will compete to be named on either the 2020 European Championship or Olympic Games teams, with the former event taking place in May and the latter in July 2021.

The trials are set to be held from 14–18 April at the London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the host site of swimming during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Here's what you need to know about the event.

The athletes

Some of British swimming's top stars – including world champions Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott – will be in attendance but will not be racing for selection.

Peaty, Scott, James Wilby, and Luke Greenbank were all pre-selected for the British Olympic team by virtue of their individual World Championships medal triumphs in Gwangju, South Korea, in 2019.

That year, Peaty took gold in the breaststroke events with Wilby taking silver behind him in the 100m, while Scott won bronze in the 200m freestyle and Greenbank in the 200m backstroke.

The biggest name at the Trials competing for his Olympic spot will therefore probably be 4x100m medley relay world champion James Guy, who missed out on pre-selection as he did not win an individual medal in Gwangju.

Guy, the 2015 world champion in the 200m freestyle, won two relay silvers at Rio 2016 but will have to perform up to expectations in London before booking his spot at a second Games.

On the women's side, look for Freya Anderson in the freestyle as the two-time long-course European champion, who won a mixed medley bronze in Gwangju in 2019, attempts to qualify for her first Olympic team.

Georgia Davies, Hannah Miley, Aimee Willmott, Ross Murdoch, and Craig Benson are also among the swimmers with previous Olympic experience taking part in the trials.

The venue

The meet will be held at the London Aquatics Centre, host venue for swimming at the London 2012 Games.

Since the Games, it has hosted a number of legs of the FINA Diving World Series, and was also the host venue for the 2016 European Aquatics Championships which saw Great Britain claim seven gold medals in the pool.

It also hosted the British Championships in 2015.

While the London Aquatics Centre can normally hold nearly 3,000 people, the Trials will be held behind closed doors with no spectators in attendance. Additionally, swimmers who are not competing during a session will not be allowed to be present.

An indoor general view of the London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

The format

The modification of the event's status from a British Swimming Championships into Selection Trials has seen governing body British Swimming scrap junior-specific finals, with only open finals for the top eight qualifiers in each event regardless of age.

Additionally, non-Olympic events – such as the 50 m butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke – have been removed from the programme. The entire meet is being conducted in a Covid-secure "bubble" format, with swimmers only allowed to leave their hotel rooms to go to the pool to train or compete.

During the meet itself, four events – the two 800 m and two 1500 m freestyles – will be raced under heat declared winner / fastest heat rules, with no final. The swimmers with the best qualifying times will all race in the last heat, and at the end of competition all times across all heats are sorted to determine final standings.

All other events will race heats during morning sessions and finals during evening sessions.

The schedule

Competition will take place over two sessions each day from 14–18 April.

Morning sessions will start at 10 am local time (British Summer Time; UTC + 1 hour) and evening sessions at 7 pm. 

The event schedule is as follows (correct as of information available on 12 April):

14 April

Women's 200 m freestyle

Men's 400 m freestyle

Women's 400 m individual medley

Men's 100 m breaststroke

Women's 100 m butterfly

Men's 200 m individual medley

15 April

Women's 800 m freestyle

Men's 800 m freestyle

Men's 200 m butterfly

Women's 100 m backstroke

Men's 100 m backstroke

Women's 200 m breaststroke

16 April

Men's 400 m individual medley

Women's 200 m butterfly

Men's 100 m freestyle

Women's 400 m freestyle

Men's 200 m breaststroke

17 April

Women's 100 m freestyle

Men's 50 m freestyle

Women's 200 m backstroke

Men's 100 m butterfly

Women's 200 m individual medley

18 April

Men's 1500 m freestyle

Women's 1500 m freestyle

Women's 100 m breaststroke

Men's 200 m backstroke

Women's 50 m freestyle

Men's 200 m freestyle

All sessions will be live streamed on the British Swimming YouTube page.