Several Olympic swimmers listed with wrong qualifying times

Several Olympic swimmers listed with wrong qualifying times

Backstroke starts

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Several swimmers were listed with the wrong qualifying times coming into the Rio Olympics.

World governing body FINA was able to correct some mistakes, including that of a Kuwaiti swimmer competing under the International Olympic Committee flag because her country’s national committee has been suspended from taking part in the Games.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported that 17 swimmers from 16 countries still had qualifying times that didn’t match the actual results from last year’s world championships in Kazan, Russia. All were admitted to the games under the “universality rule,” which is designed to spread the sport to developing countries that would not otherwise have qualified.

FINA didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the Guardian report. It wasn’t clear if the mix-up kept anyone away from the Games who should have qualified, but renewed questions about the murky way swimming is governed and organized.

FINA did change the qualifying times for several dozen swimmers, as well as some relay times for major teams such as Italy and Hungary. The times determine heats and lane assignments during the preliminaries.

Further confusing matters, FINA hastily added seven Russian swimmers to its entry list just before the start of competition last Saturday, after they were initially barred from the games over their country’s massive doping scandal. No explanation was given for why the swimmers were allowed to compete, but the decision sparked heated criticism from several athletes, most notably American Lilly King.

One swimmer initially listed without a time was Kuwait’s Faye Husain, who is competing as an independent athlete in Rio because her country’s national Olympic committee was suspended by the IOC for alleged government interference in several sports federations.

The 21-year-old Husain, who recently graduated from Williams College in the United States, competed last year at worlds and posted a time of 27.63 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle. But when that wasn’t listed in her Rio entry, she was assigned to the opening heat with less-accomplished swimmers.

The mistake was initially missed because she didn’t have a representative at the team leader meeting held before the start of the Games, where mistakes are supposed to be rectified. As an independent athlete, she’s being coached by her college coach, Steve Kuster, who arrived in Rio after the meeting.

“She had gotten here a day or two before me and noticed that she was entered with no time,” Kuster said. “She was in the very first heat.”

From there, the coach said, it was “a very long trek to get it right.” Finally, the issue was resolved and Husain will be in the fifth of 12 heats when she competes Friday.

Kuster believes the proper lane assignment will help her put up a much better time than she would have swimming against much-slower swimmers, even though she’s got little chance of advancing out of the preliminaries either way. She tied for 64th at worlds.

“It was more about being where she rightfully belongs,” Kuster said.

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