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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3 years ago

Do they still need a passport if they are competing in wave 1?

Jack Armstrong
3 years ago

In response to #8 did they change the entry period for wave 2 so you can qualify during wave 1?

3 years ago

What are the odds that an elite swimmer, that everyone expects to make the team test positive? Are they out of trials? Is it over for them? I’m frankly surprised a note worthy name hasn’t tested positive yet…we’ve seen it already with a few prominent international swimmers.

Reply to  Ervin
3 years ago

Noteworthy American swimmers have tested positive, but they’ve worked very hard to keep it quiet. You know how American swimming works. Whoever keeps the best secrets wins the day.

Y Swimmer
3 years ago

So if many top swimmers have multiple top 41 times, a large handful obviously won’t tackle all of those events. So it’s possible we see multiple events in wave 2 that don’t even have 41 swimmers compete if the invite is solely based on event rank, even with the bonus entries. Then you add in a high number of scratches, DNS, injuries or last minute illness etc, Could we see some events at wave 2 with only 3-4heats? Are they using 10 lanes or 8?

3 years ago

Trials used to be our Superbowl for swimming. I get Covid19 precautions but this plan is ridiculous.

3 years ago

I sure hope USA swimming does something for those holding tickets for Wave 2, then needing to also buy tickets for Wave 1, the meet that their child now is swimming in. Refunds need to be given, at least providing a credit for the cost of the tickets to Wave 1. The relationship that USA Swimming has had with Omaha, Ticketmaster, etc has been too strong to not allow for the decent and proper handling of financial remedies of those holding tickets, now potentially suffering a loss because these events get cancelled or altered because of this totally unexpected pandemic. If the events get changed, those supporting our sport should not be penalized.

J-Hawk Proud
3 years ago

I’m interested to see if USA Swimming gives Wave 1 athletes spectator tickets to Wave 2 or a big discount to get some tickets? Part of being at Trials is watching up close and personal, who makes the team. It would be nice for athletes to be able to watch, in person, for each of the events, they qualified for.

3 years ago

Are there bonus events for Wave 1 people?

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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