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Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Tuesday, 11 January 2011

London 2012 Olympics qualifying: Swimming

Rebecca Adlington and Jon

Rebecca Adlington's masterclass

How qualification works:

1 MARCH 2011
Qualification period begins
16-31 JULY 2011
World Championships in Shanghai, China
2 JULY 2012
Fina announces 16 relay teams to compete at the Games
3 JULY 2012
Qualification period closes for individual swimmers (ends two weeks earlier for relay teams)

There are 32 swimming gold medals to be won in the 2012 pool, divided evenly between men and women, with 900 athletes taking part once the two additional open-water swimming events are included.

Swimmers have been given two qualifying standards to hit for each event - an A standard dubbed the Olympic Qualifying Time, and a B standard referred to as the Olympic Invitational Time - with the latter being slightly easier to achieve. (Read the full, official documentation to find out what these qualifying standards are.)

The standards can be met at any event approved by world governing body Fina, within a set qualification period which begins on 1 March 2011 and runs until 17 June 2012 for relay teams, or 3 July 2012 for individuals.

If a country only enters one swimmer into an event, that swimmer must simply reach the B standard.

However, to enter two swimmers into an event (the maximum for one country), both must make the A standard.

Reaching the A standard automatically qualifies a swimmer for the Games, but reaching the B standard means they must wait for Fina to go down its "points list" - based on past performances - in January 2012, and issue invites accordingly.

Fina can also extend invitations to swimmers who do not make the grade, "based on performance".

Extra swimmers can be added to the team for relays, subject to some restrictions, provide a country reaches the B standard time for that relay prior to the end of the qualification period.

Relay teams qualify by finishing in the top 12 at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, or being one of the four fastest remaining teams in the 15-month period before the Games at recognised competitions.

In open water swimming, qualification can be achieved either at the 2011 World Championships (where the first 10 to finish in both the men's and women's events will qualify for London 2012) or at a separate qualifying tournament to be held in early 2012, where a further nine men and nine women will go through.

Teenage star Achieng Ajulu-Bushell

How are GB competitors doing?

No host nation allocation has been specified for swimming events at London 2012, but swimming is a strong sport for Britain, a nation which has skirted around the fringes of "superpower" status in recent years.

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington may be the best-known British swimmer, but team-mates Liam Tancock and Gemma Spofforth are world champions, and new talents like Jaz Carlin and Achieng Ajulu-Bushell are developing into potential medal prospects.

Britain can expect to qualify a top-class team in the pool. However, no matter how many swimmers reach the necessary standard to qualify for the Games, there is a maximum of two swimmers per nation in any one event.

That means British Swimming must select its strongest team from all swimmers who qualify, so a fierce battle for places can be expected. British Swimming's selection policy for 2012 has yet to be published.

In the open-water discipline, GB's Keri-Anne Payne won the women's world title in 2009 and is a strong bet to lead British hopes in 2012.

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see also
Swimming calendar
17 Oct 00 |  Swimming
Swimming on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Swimming

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