Gagan was handed a berth in men's 1,500m freestyle event by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) under the 'Universality' quota after none of the country's top swimmers could make the cut under the normal qualifying route.
The surprise development was a cause of ecstasy for young Gagan though it shut the door on other established swimmers -- Viradhwal Khade (100m freestyle), Sandeep Sejwal (100m and 200m breaststroke), Aaron d'Souza (200m freestyle) and Saurabh Sangvekar (1500m freestyle). Under the 'Universality' quota, a country which will be unrepresented in the Olympics, can get a berth each in men's and women's categories but the swimmer to be picked should have taken part in the last World Championships.
The 20-year-old Karnataka swimmer, Gagan competed in the World Championships last year in Shanghai in 800m freestyle, clocking 8:21.23secs. He will take part in 1500m freestyle in London. Viradhwal, Sandeep, Aaron and Sangvekar were ineligible to be considered for 'Universality' quota even though they had crossed the Olympic Selection Timing (OST).
Their OST qualification rather made them ineligible for being considered under 'Universality' quota. Only those swimmers who crossed Olympic Qualification Timing get automatic berth while FINA chooses the best-timers from among OST swimmers for the remaining slots. Viradhwal, Sandeep, Aaron and Sangvekar crossed the OST but since they are at the lower rungs of the long list, they failed to make it to the Olympics as FINA picked the best timers from the OST swimmers.