Arguably the most important swimming event of 2019 to be held domestically, the 2019 U.S. Open Water Swimming Championships will be held at the Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, Florida. The event will be held from May 3rd-5th.
The reason the 2019 Open Water Championships are so significant is that they are, in a sense, an Olympic Trials event. In open water swimming, the first 10 spots at the 2020 Olympic Games are given to the top 10 finishers in each of the men’s and women’s 10km races at the 2019 World Championships. If a country has a swimmer earn one (or two) of those spots in Gwangju next year, then that country is done qualifying for the open water races at the 2020 Olympic Games for that gender. In other words, a country can’t have a swimmer qualify via a top 10 finish at Worlds, and a swimmer qualify via the 2020 international Olympic qualifying race.
In short: if you’re an American, and you think it’s likely that one of your compatriots will finish in the top 10 at Worlds in 2019, then you need to get on the team, and finish in the top 10 as well, to book your ticket to the Olympics.
The event will also choose swimmers for the non-Olympic 5km, 25km, and team open water events at the World Championships.
The Miami Marine Stadium is a new stadium in the rotation as USA Swimming deviates from its historic back-and-forth between Lake Castaic in California and Lake Miromar in Florida. 2018 Open Water Nationals, for example, were hosted in Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Arizona.
The venue will also bring a unique angle to the sport in that it’s a rare permanent venue for open water swimming – which is usually viewed via either standing on a beach, or sometimes via a temporary grandstand.
The Miami Marine Stadium, first built in 1963, is located on Virginia Key. It was the first stadium in the United States purpose-built for powerboat racing, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The local citizens pledged $3,000,000 renovation via a municipal bond in the early 2000s to repair damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and another gorup formed in 2008 to further restore it to its former glory. It has a seating capacity of 6,566. That’s bigger even than the temporary stands built for open water swimming at the 2016 Olympic Games at Fort Copacabana (5,000).
The venue features a huge dredged course on Biscayane Bay and a covered grandstand. Open Water Nationals will be one of the first sporting events that the arena will host after its rehabilitation – it’s being billed largely as a concert venue after reopening.
The arena, which is now too small for modern power boat races, has also hosted boxing matches, major concerts, and political rallies on its floating stage.