Canada's Olympic, Paralympic swim trials ahead of Tokyo Games will be invitation only

Each race at Olympic trials will be limited to 20 swimmers invited to compete, as opposed to previous trials open to all Canadian swimmers registered with a club.

Races limited to 20 swimmers as organizers attempt to ensure safety amid pandemic

Canada's Kylie Masse starts in the women's 100m backstroke final at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea in 2019. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

Canada's Olympic and Paralympic swim trials will be contracted to reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Canada's Olympic and Paralympic swim teams for this summer's Tokyo Games will be named following the April 7-11 trials at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Each race at Olympic trials will be limited to 20 swimmers invited to compete, as opposed to previous trials open to all Canadian swimmers registered with a club.

The women's 100-metre butterfly in 2016, for example, had 70 entrants.

Swimmers won't qualify for a final via heats and semifinals. Each event will be two 10-lane timed heats with the fastest times determining the winners.

Paralympic races will be multi-class timed finals of a maximum of 15 swimmers per event.

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Swimming Canada will post a ranked list of swimmers eligible to receive invitations by Dec. 22. Invitations will be issued starting Jan. 6.

"In this global COVID-19 pandemic, we have to make health and safety the priority, along with allowing for the best possible performance from our athletes who will be invited to the trials," Swimming Canada high-performance director John Atkinson said Monday in a statement.

Canada's open-water swim trials scheduled April 17-18 on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands are cancelled.

Canada's berths in the Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier May 29-30 in Fukuoka, Japan will be contested at the pool trials in Toronto.

"We do not take the decisions announced today lightly," Atkinson said. "We strive to ensure all in swimming are aware of the decisions and why we are taking them, and to give our athletes time to make plans based on the decisions.

"While some of the decisions may not be popular, we determined this was the best alternative after a great deal of work went into considering multiple scenarios."

Swimming Canada also announced a Canadian swim team will not compete Aug. 8-19 in the 2021 Summer World University Games in Chengdu, China.

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