FAQs: The New Wave 1/Wave 2 US Olympic Swimming Trials

On Tuesday, USA Swimming announced a dramatic change to the plan for the 2021 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

The plan will see the meet split into two separate events, with the slower qualifiers swimming in “Wave 1” in early June before the faster qualifiers (including the top 2 finishers in each event from “Wave 1”) swimming in a “Wave 2” meet a week later.

You can read the original reporting on it here.

In the 24 hours since the plan was announced, there have been a lot of questions raised about how this is going to work. Some of those questions have already been answered in previous articles, but for the sake of accessibility, we’ve included them below, along with several ‘new’ questions, in an FAQ.

The more novel questions are later in the list, so keep scrolling if you’re feeling a little more esoteric.-

1) What are the Wave 1 and Wave 2 Time Standards?

Here’s an article listing the new time standards.

2) How were the Wave 1/Wave 2 new trials standards set?

The Wave 1 standards are the same as the original standards. The Wave 2 standards are based on the 41st-ranked qualifier today. That number was set because 41st place is the lowest-ranked swimmer since 2000 to make an Olympic Trials final (Morgan Scroggy – 2008 – 200 back). See the new time standards here.

3) What About Swimmers on the Bubble?

There is no ‘bubble.’ If you hit the Wave 2 time standards or faster, you’re in the Wave 2 meet.

4) What if a swimmer has some Wave 1 cuts and some Wave 2 cuts? Do they have to swim at both meets?

No. If you have a Wave 2 cut, you are in the Wave 2 meet, and can “Bonus” swim any event in which you have a Wave 1 cut. Crucial: If you have a Wave 2 cut in any meet, you may only swim in the Wave 2 meet.

5) I have a Wave 2 Cut, but most of my teammates are going to Wave 1. Can I swim in Wave 1?

No. If you have a Wave 2 cut, your only options are swim at the Wave 2 meet, or skip the Trials altogether.

6) What is the qualifying deadline?

The qualifying period is November 28, 2018 (unchanged) through May 30, 2021. Swimmers will not have to requalify if they qualified before the change announced this week.

7) What is the event schedule for Wave 1 and Wave 2?

The Wave 2 meet schedule will be identical to the 8 day schedule previously planned. The Wave 1 meet schedule will be a condensed 4-day schedule.

See both schedules here.

8) What if I hit a Wave 2 time standard during the Wave 1 meet?

The Wave 1 meet is after the end of the qualifying period for the Wave 2 meet, so the only way to qualify for the Wave 2 meet while swimming at the Wave 1 meet is by placing in the top two of an event at the Wave 1 meet.

Swimmers who qualify for the Wave 2 meet via placing top 2 at the Wave 1 meet may continue racing their Wave 1 events at the Wave 1 meet, in spite of #5 above.

9) I bought tickets for the “Olympic Trials” (now Wave 2 meet), but my swimmer is in Wave 1. Can I get a refund?

For now, current ticketholders for the “Olympic Trials” still hold their seats for the Wave 2 meet. USA Swimming is working on several plans for tickets, but have no information to share yet until they have more certainty on what capacity of spectators will be allowed.

There was a period after the initial postponement to receive a refund, but that period is closed.

If spectator capacity is reduced, it is likely that many people will voluntarily give up their “Wave 2” seats, so it seems unlikely that USA Swimming will have to ‘force cut’ ticket holders, though it is possible.

10) When will tickets go on sale for Wave 1, and for how much?

To be determined.

11) What capacity will be allowed at each meet?

To be determined. The goal is around 60% capacity, where USA Swimming would break even financially. Venue guidelines could permit up to 75% capacity. The upcoming NCAA women’s volleyball championships in the same arena are sold to capacity.

12) How will safety be managed?

USA Swimming says that the full plan hasn’t been set yet, but a report in the Wall Street Journal says that it is “extremely likely” that requiring negative COVID tests will be required, like it was for the PSS meets in Richmond and San Antonio earlier this month. USA Swimming has told us that some of the protocols will be focused around simply keeping athletes from ‘hanging around’ the pool when they’re not racing or preparing to race to help mitigate crowds in places like the warmup pool.

13) Will the Wave 1 Safety Protocols be the same as Wave 2?

Yes. Identical.

14) Why don’t they move the meet to location X?

So far, USA Swimming is focused on having both meets at the CHI Health Center.

15) Will a vaccine be required to compete?

No. In fact, right now, USA Swimming says that their plans make the assumption that the “vast majority” of athletes and attendees would not yet be vaccinated (though President Joe Biden’s comments this week are more optimistic).

16) For those swimmers who finish top 2 in Wave 1 and advance to Wave 2, will there be funding/logistics assistance?

USA Swimming is still pondering that.

17) Is this the final plan?

No. In the era of the pandemic, nothing is final until it’s happened. USA Swimming COO Mike Unger has said that they are leaving room for the situation to evolve, including splitting prelims sessions by gender, or further reducing the field.

18) Will both meets be televised?

NBC will move forward with televising Wave 2 as planned. It would be shocking if Wave 1 was not, at a minimum, live-streamed, but USA Swimming is still working on those details.

19) Will there be “B” or “C” finals in Wave 1?

There will be no semi-finals in Wave 1, and USA Swimming says the current plan is for “B” finals but not “C” finals. The 800 and 1500 freestyles will all be timed finals in Wave 1.

Wave 2 will proceed as normal: no “B” finals, prelims-semis-finals for races 200 meters or shorter, and prelims-finals for races 400 meters or longer.

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1 month ago

This is so stupid. Should have just split men and women and left the cuts the same.

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 month ago

They’re gonna still allow 60-75% capacity in the stands, but disenfranchise half the trials qualifiers by sending them to a “wave 1” meet?! What a joke.

Reply to  Anonaswimmer
1 month ago

Ikr just a joke for the first wave swimmers

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 month ago

This increases the cost by 50% *4 days. A split increases cost by 100% *8 days.

Reply to  Aaron
1 month ago

The vibes won’t be the same at the first wave meet so it’s not really fair for them

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 month ago

Life is not fair.

Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

If it was men and women it would be…

Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

I know, right!? All these dumb COVID policies just because some people have “grandmas.” Life’s not fair.

Mary Klier
Reply to  Anonaswimmer
1 month ago

Really. Some of out top coaches are 60 and up. And many are men!

Tony R
Reply to  Aaron
1 month ago

Not quite 50% cost increase. The pools were going to be sitting in that building at that time anyway. I don’t have the numbers, but I suspect that is the largest expense of this event.
At previous trials, that pool was installed weeks in advance, and they held a smaller meet a week or so before Trials, basically a test event. It looks like Wave I would replace that test event.
So, the largest number on the ledger won’t change.

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 month ago

You can’t have one group of USA Swimmers, men or women, swimming one week after the other. That’s not what USA Swimming wants to do right before the Olympics.

Reply to  ReneDescartes
1 month ago

It’s almost like people are forgetting that the priority of the meet (after safety) is to pick the best Olympic team.

Reply to  ReneDescartes
1 month ago

Why is that

1 month ago

16) Is *chefs kiss* exquisite. Just imagine pitching such an absurd idea (top 2 in wave 1 advance to wave 2) in a USAS board room and not immediately deciding to cover the logistics and cost for the athlete. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that either USAS is completely inept, or they don’t care about their athletes.

15) I have friends in retail who are vaccinated already. It seems silly that international-level athletes won’t/shouldn’t be vaccinated by/during the next 6-months? I do not like the idea that a vaccine would be required, BUT if it were required then USAS could ditch all this two-meet nonsense and just hold one trials meet.

Why not allow… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

A negative COVID test + proof of vaccine + mask isn’t adequate, just because we don’t know the vaccine provides sterilizing immunity?

Reply to  Swack
1 month ago

Pro-USA Swimming propaganda comments coming in 3…2…1…

1 month ago

I’m just imagining the comments here about the absolute HEROES the top 2 wave 1 swimmers will be, having to sleep on the streets the week before their next meet. Respect.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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