2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Day 2 Overreaction: It’s a Swim Meet and It’s Loud


The following article is my opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of SwimSwam as a whole.

Something was in the Indianapolis air this morning, as evidenced by my performance in the New York Times Mini Crossword:

Shameless Twitter plug. No, this is not my best time.

I could go on and on about the atmosphere, the crowd, and the spectacle of a pool in a football stadium, but at the end of the day this is still just a swim meet. So let’s talk some swimming!

Hooray for Hometown Hoosier Heroes

Though admittedly Blake Pieroni is only my second favorite 200 freestyler (after our lord and savior who-will-not-be-named), he was the crowd darling this morning in Indianapolis. After living the retired athlete life for seven months, it was thrilling to watch him clock the second-fastest time of his career, and the second-fastest time of the session, in front of a home crowd.

Hoosiers got the biggest crowd reaction this morning, from Lilly King getting a roar of applause before she’d even stepped up to the blocks, to Owen McDonald giving his new home base a warm welcome with a heat win and new personal best in the 200 free.

The energy in the stadium was undeniably electric this morning, and with 17,697 spectators in attendance (3,000 short of last night’s record) that’s no surprise. I have an unproven hypothesis that the hometown crowd will propel more Indiana natives to Olympic berths as the week wears on, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Sandpiper Beats Gator?

All eyes were on Claire Weinstein and Bella Sims in the 200 free, at least at the SwimSwam table. After both swimmers missed the 400 free final, the 200 free presented itself as a litmus test on club versus college training.

Weinstein bounced back, qualifying 3rd overall, but Sims slipped to a heartbreaking 17th. There was some chatter discussing whether Katie Ledecky would scratch tonight to give her Gator teammate a chance, but with start lists published that window of opportunity has closed. Sims still has eight events left on her schedule (200 IM, 400 IM, 100 back, 200 back, 200 fly, 100 free, 800 free, 1500 free), but with swimming requiring more specialization her trademark as a jack-of-all-trades may work against her.

There’s still Katie Grimes, who pulled out of the 400 free final and is in the 200 free semi. She’s already qualified for Paris in the 10km open water race, but with unsafe levels of e. coli detected in the Seine and no announced backup venues, if I were in Grimes’ shoes I would be on the hunt for another Olympic berth in a climate controlled pool.

Age is But a Number

Besides the Hoosiers, Gabrielle Rose probably had the best reception of the morning. The crowd was roaring before she even hit the wall, and continued as she crossed the pool deck after clocking a personal best in the 100 breast.

This has been one of my favorite storylines of the Trials ever since covering her qualifying time back in November, and she did not disappoint. Part of me wondered if she would coast prelims and spend the rest of the week soaking up the atmosphere, but she showed she’s just as fierce a competitor as she was over 20 years ago.

If you ever needed motivation to jump back in the pool, there you have it. I’ve surely found it.

Division is Also But a Number

Disclaimer: my bias is showing.

The story of the 100 backstroke should be about Ryan Murphy, or Hunter Armstrong, or perhaps even Shaine Casas, but I was hyperfocused on Tanner Filion.

I had the privilege of watching Filion’s record-breaking performances in at 2022 and 2023 Division III NCAAs — on-deck, crammed between athletes and coaches — and viscerally remember scrolling through the collegiate rankings to see how he would have fared in Division I. And then, as luck would have it, we got to see exactly how he would fare when he transferred to Notre Dame for his fifth-year.

As a D3 enthusiast, I’m always stoked to see a name I recognize on the national stage. (I probably watched Jennah Fadely more closely than any other competitors in the 100 breast.) While I’m not deluded enough to imagine that D3 as a whole will become competitive with D1 anytime soon, the looming changes to collegiate sports has me curious about what might trickle down.

It’s also a testament to what Trials represents. It’s not only about selecting the Olympic team — historically most qualifiers are seeded 10th or better coming into the meet — but also about giving swimmers the chance to rub shoulders with the best at a high-pressure, high-production meet.

And yes, I’ve got an eye on Luke Rodarte in the finals of the men’s 100 breast. Maybe Andrew Wilson can give him a call with some words of wisdom.

Please Stop DNS’ing

See above.

Practice Makes a Perfectly Smooth Meet

I want to take this last section to give a shout out to everyone working behind the scenes to keep the meet running smoothly. One of my favorite parts of the session is watching the officials march out to an instrumental cover of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ (I think, I’m not great with song recognition), with a close second going to the volunteers who collect the baskets behind the blocks.

Watching the volunteers march out on deck, exchanging the baskets, and retracing their steps back “offstage” is supremely satisfying. There’s a little ways to go before they achieve perfect uniformity, but I’m betting they get there by the end of the meet.

If you need more proof of the quality on display, take a look at the starter practicing right before the 100 back swim-off:

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Lou Suta
1 month ago

Yes, Lord and Savior, Number 1

1 month ago


The women’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay is sunk.


Without Bella Sims and a 1:54.64 relay split, it actually is.

Spieker Pool Lap Swimmer
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

Someone else will step up.

Eye guy
1 month ago

If Bella Sims can sneak on the team in a different event (seems very unlikely), I wonder if the coaches put her on the finals 800 free relay considering her past, if she is performing well at the Olympics.

Reply to  Eye guy
1 month ago

You’re grasping at straws.

Holden Caulfield's 400 IM
1 month ago

Nice piece, keep ’em coming!

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Though admittedly Blake Pieroni is only my second favorite 200 freestyler (after our lord and savior who-will-not-be-named),

You’re allowed to say it’s Sun Yang.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

I was thinking Yannick Agnel