2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Day 3 Overreaction: Swimming is My Favorite Spectator Sport

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

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

It was a short session this morning and the energy was definitely a little muted. So was I, after getting my ego bruised last night.

Though I suppose being mistaken for Mark Wild is somewhat of a badge of honor. Onwards and upwards.

Maybe it was because I was on the live tweets, or maybe it’s because swimming is my favorite spectator sport, but even with a short slate of events this morning this was a thrilling session. Let’s dive in.

Is it Possible to Feel Patriotic About a Stroke?

The women’s 100 backstroke is probably one of the marquee events of these Trials. Barriers were broken, claims were staked, and Regan Smith wore a cat cap that I only learned about from my friends watching the broadcast.

Time barriers in swimming are all symbolic. Even though Smith has been a 57-point-faster-than-this-morning multiple times in her career, her 57.93 grabbed all the attention as soon as she hit the wall.

Does anyone else remember when the world record was 58.00? Smith’s prelims effort didn’t even crack the top-25 all-time performances list. Yes, we’ve been living in a 57-point world for the past five years, but it still feels monumental every time it flashes on screen.

But there were two other swimmers who broke significant barriers for the first time in their careers: Kennedy Noble and Josephine Fuller both got under 59-seconds for the first time. Swimflation is a cruel mistress, as it seemed like no one even blinked an eye.

I’m still pulling for Berkoff to be the second American woman to break 58, as predicted in the event previews, but it’s really just a two-hundredths drop to get there. I think she does it tonight, and by the end of the summer surpasses Mollie O’Callaghan and Kylie Masse in the all-time rankings.

Heck, let’s throw another wildcard 57 prediction out there, but I won’t tell you who because I don’t want to be wrong. The best performances come out of domestic rivalries, and I think these women can push each other to even greater heights.

Do I Actually Enjoy Watching Distance Races?

The answer is yes. Most spectators started to disappear as quickly as the backstroke flags, but that’s their loss. The men’s 800 free heats had me enthralled from start to finish. One of my career aspirations is to be the official that rings the bell for the final lap. As a classically trained percussionist (circa high school), I think I could bring some musicality to the position.

Max Carlsen showed up in a big way in the first heat, and just two heats later Sean Green also popped a big personal best. Green ended up making the final heat. It sounded like he had a lot of fans in the crowd this morning, which is always exciting. Hopefully they show up tomorrow night to cheer him home.

Luke Ellis also hit a personal best, and while Luke Whitlock didn’t quite match his seed time, he’s now in his second top-seed position of the meet after the 400 free on night one.

It’s just plain exciting to see swimmers have big drops on the biggest stage. Even if it doesn’t end in an Olympic bid, a great performance here can be a big boost of confidence they can carry forward into their collegiate careers.

And there were so many excellent races as well, which are extensively documented on our Twitter account. My only critique of this pool-in-the-stadium so far is the lack of an enduring scoreboard. If I blinked for too long, I missed the 50 splits entirely. It was an awful viewing experience from that standpoint, especially considering the media section is behind the blocks. It’s near impossible to tell who’s making a move and who’s fading, questions that can be easily answered by visible splits.

Even with the sucky viewing experience, it was a great end to the session.

Oh, to be 14 years old.

Audrey Derivaux was my favorite story line of the morning. After posting a huge personal best in the 400 IM, she was back in the water just 30 minutes later in the heats of the 100 back.

With all the heartache over doubles, scratches, and what-have-you that happens at the top end, it was refreshing to see a young swimmer fearlessly crush two back-to-back swims at a high profile meet. While she’ll only make one finals appearance tonight (8th in the 400 IM), it was a reminder of where most of these swimmers started: young, fearless, and full of energy.

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Kevin
1 month ago

Not having splits on the broadcast has always annoyed me. It’s the only value Rowdy occasionally provides now.

I also wish swimming could get it’s time databases in order like athletics does. I love instantly seeing the PB, SB, NR (National Record) by their finishing times.

The NCAA swimming championships was doing both on one of the streams at least for prelims and it was awesome. It’s not information overload for casual fans.

I’ve never understood why swimming doesn’t do it.

Great article, I didn’t want my whole reply to just be a tangent. The lack of scoreboard at the meet just got me fired up again about something that is very technically feasible (because other sports… Read more »

tallswimmer
Reply to  Kevin
1 month ago

I will bang this drum til they bring it back. Free Omega Live Timing! Up through 2008-2010ish the commentator info system was free for all, and actually provided live results with splits etc., and now it’s password locked and it makes me so sad.

Chris Breedy
1 month ago

Did anyone else notice Regan slip on her start?

EXCALIBUR
Reply to  Chris Breedy
1 month ago

she was behind a few swimmers after 30/40 meters …..

The Old Man
1 month ago

Great article, Laura. I love your unique perspective.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

As for distance races, it’s hard to top the Ledecky – Friis epic dual.

I miss the ISL (go dawgs)
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

And Hafnaoui-Finke in the mile in Fukuoka.

Norm Bartner
1 month ago

Outstanding swim article, with a humorous lilt. There is an implicit caring. The author has perspective at 30,000 feet and up close & personal.
I felt a little closer to the athlete.Would enjoy seeing more.

Snarky
Reply to  Norm Bartner
1 month ago

“Lilt”. I love when people use seldom heard words, right Braden? 🤪

Admin
Reply to  Snarky
1 month ago

You do not.

SwimFL
1 month ago

Bob probably gave Leon a recovery day to travel and he has to do serious workouts through the trials. Must be nice to be able to train through an Olympics Trials meet.

JimSwim22
1 month ago

I hope all of you SwimSwam staff are having an much fun as I am reading in your posts. Thank you all for your efforts, insights, and knowledge. Best 9 days of swimming ever… Paris is gonna be epic

Admin
Reply to  JimSwim22
1 month ago

Thanks Jim! We’re having fun….ask us again on lane 9 haha.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Anyone attempt to eat that burger in the photo?

Admin
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

Oh it was the first thing I ordered. It was delicious.

Snarky
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Cmon Braden. Fess up about the cucumber salad toast.

Admin
Reply to  Snarky
1 month ago

I offered you one. You declined.

It was also delicious. It’s the first thing that I ordered twice this week.

JimSwim22
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Lane 9? Is that like the 19 hole? Wish I could come to the taphouse.

swimmom
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

you need to add lmao to the + – at the bottom of posts.
There are so many times when I want to choose laughing and not up or down votes.

I agree on reading swimswam

JimSwim22
1 month ago

14 is getting into the serious age but i too love the fearless double. For 12 and under I always said – give them a Snickers and get back on the blocks

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  JimSwim22
1 month ago

I remember a certain 14 year old walking on the swimming deck with a teddy bear. Whatever gets you thru the Summer Olympics.