USA Swimming News

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

FINA A Standard Selection Explanation


In the recently released selection procedures for FINA World Championships, Junior Pan Pacs, and Mel Zajac there is frequent mention of Percent Faster than the FINA A Standard. The intent of this explanation is to clarify what that means, how it will be used to rank performances at the Phillips 66 International Team Trials, and why it was chosen as a part of this year’s selection process. While the selection procedures differ for each competition, the purpose of Percent Faster than the FINA A standard is the same – to establish a uniform way to compare and rank times across different events. 

The FINA A standard is the automatic qualifying time for World Championships. This time is established by FINA based on the 14th place time at the previous World Championships. Unlike other metrics, such as FINA power points which is based on the world record, the A standard is based on the recent strength of an event as a whole and will not be skewed by one exceptional performance. World rank has traditionally been used for selection purposes, but currently there is no reliable world rank database upon which we can base this process. 

At the qualifying competition, each performance under consideration will be subtracted from the FINA A standard, the remainder will be divided by the FINA A Standard, and the quotient will be converted to a percentage. For example, the A standard in the men’s 100 freestyle is 48.77 and the A standard in the men’s 200 freestyle is 1:47.06. Hypothetical times of 47.77 and 1:46.06 would be converted to percentages and compared as follows:

• 48.77 – 47.77 = 1.00
• 1:47.06 – 1:46.06 = 1.00
• 1.00 / 48.77 = 2.050%
• 1 / 107.06 (1:47.06 expressed as seconds) = 0.934%

For selection purposes, the 100 freestyle time would rank higher than the 200 freestyle time. 

The same holds true for times that are slower than the FINA A standard but the percentages will be negative and the percentage closest to zero will be ranked highest. Using the same events, a 100 freestyle time of 49.77 and 200 freestyle time of 1:48.06 would be calculated as follows: 

• 48.77 – 49.77 = -1.00
• 1:47.06 – 1:48.06 = -1.00
• -1.00 / 48.77 = -2.050%
• -1.00 / 107.06 = -0.934%

In this case the 200 freestyle time would rank higher than the 100 freestyle time. 

While this is a change to USA Swimming’s selection process, we believe that it will bring uniformity across events.

For more on the 2022 Phillips 66 International Team Trials and selection criteria, visit

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