Ophelia Swayne still believes she was supposed to be Ghana’s first female Olympic swimmer
In the run up to the games, Swayne thrust herself into the spotlight of controversy on Twitter, going on an infamous rant that insinuated a conspiracy theory to deny her a Rio slot.
Kaya Forson, the young Ghanaian female swimmer based in Malaga, Spain, made it to Rio at the expense of Swayne. This gave the 14-year-old the historic honour of becoming Ghana’s first female Olympic swimmer.
The 19-year-old Swayne missed out on a chance to make it to Rio due to her failure to participate in the 2015 World Aquatics Championship in Kazan.
The rules of FINA, swimming’s world governing body, state that in case a country fails to produce swimmers who meet either an Olympic Qualifying Time or Olympic Standard Time, their best two swimmers – a male and female – can gain automatic qualification on the ‘Universality Rule’; provided those two swimmers achieve their country’s best times at a FINA sanctioned event.
This condition meant Ghana was represented in Rio by Kaya Forson and her male counterpart Abeiku Jackson – both of whom were the only Ghanaian swimmers who competed in the FINA sanctioned World Championship in Kazan.
Swayne’s social media rant had made suggestions that Forson’s camp had dishonestly manipulated their way into securing the Olympic slot. With Kaya Forson’s father swooping in with a series of amicable tweets to resolve the bad blood created, a cease-fire seemed to have been reached.
Well, apparently not.
Swayne, weeks after the brouhaha, seems to have resurrected the unrest, alluding to still feeling hard done. Speaking an interview with Kuulpeeps, the swimmer suggested that she was deliberately obstructed from going to Kazan. “I feel like, why didn’t I get the opportunity to go to Kazan?” she quipped. “Because if I had gone to Kazan, there is no way Kaya would have gone to the Olympics.”
Explaining why she missed Kazan, Swayne said: “My coach kicked me off at club level – and he also happens to be the national coach. And so he felt that because I’m not swimming for him, I shouldn’t be able to represent my country.”
Swayne’s is Ghana’s fastest female swimmer in the 50m freestyle event, with a national female record of 28.10 seconds.