World body FINA selected Karnataka swimmer Gagan Ulalmath to participate in the men’s 1,500m freestyle.┬áThe move came as a surprise to many with Ulalmath failing to get close to any qualification standard. While other well known swimmers like Viradhwal Khade (100m freestyle), Sandeep Sejwal (100m and 200m breaststroke), Aaron D’souza (200m freestyle) and Saurabh Sangvekar (1,500m freestyle), all had ‘B’ standard, also called as Olympic Selection Timing (OST).

Gagan Ulalmath during the men’s 800m freestyle swimming event in Shanghai last year. Pic/AFP

“We requested FINA to give India one Olympic spot because we didn’t have any and in a letter sent to me, they granted Gagan a berth in men’s 1500m freestyle under Universality quota,” Swimming Federation of India Secretary-General Virendra Nanavati told IANS.

FINA’s list has 438 swimmers who attained Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) or the ‘A’ Standard time, 181 OST qualifiers, 131 relay swimmers and 150 Universality Places (for countries to enter one male and one female swimmer if they do not have a qualified swimmer). “Luckily Gagan participated in the World Championships held in Shanghai in July last year,” he added.