On Monday, USA Swimming released the qualifying standards for the 2024 US Olympic Trials.
Unsurprisingly, every standard is faster than it was for the 2021 event.
Most standards fall somewhere between the 2021 Wave I standards (the original standards) and the Wave II standards (the tightened times after the meet was postponed by COVID-19).
A few races in 2024 have standards that approach the 2021 Wave II standards, though none actually surpass the 2021 Wave II standards.
In 2021, there were around 882 qualifiers for the Wave I meet only, plus around 657 swimmers who had standards that qualified them directly qualified them for the Wave II meet. That means that even with the extra qualifying period, there were only about 1,539 Olympic Trials qualifiers in 2021 based on the original standards. That didn’t miss, by far, the goal of 1,200-1,400 qualifiers, and was a dramatic reduction from the previous meets.
We can use mathematical models to try and predict how many there will be for 2024 (and we will), accounting for the fact that the sport as a whole gets faster from quad-to-quad. based on the standards that were set, however, it’s clear that USA Swimming is neither trying to squish the meet much further than its original plan in 2021, nor expand it back to the 2,000+ qualifiers that the previous editions in Omaha saw.
With upwards of 30,000 seats to fill in Lucas Oil Stadium, one strategy to do so could have been more qualifiers. Each qualifier brings with them a certain number of ticket-buying family, friends, and teammates, and is an easy way to expand the spectator base (although not necessarily a way to improve the quality of the entertainment product).
Below, see a comparison of how times are changing from 2021 through 2024, and below that, see the events ranked by percentage change.
|Percentage Change||Time Change||2021 Wave II||2021 Wave I||Women||Event||2024||2021 Wave I||2021 Wave II||Change||Percent Change|
|0.96%||1.30||2:15.26||2:17.39||2:16.09||200m Individual Medley||2:03.49||2:04.09||2:03.02||0.6||0.49%|
|0.65%||1.90||4:47.72||4:51.79||4:49.89||400m Individual Medley||4:25.19||4:25.99||4:23.24||0.8||0.30%|
Changes: Ranked by Event
|12||W||200m Individual Medley||0.96%|
|21||W||400m Individual Medley||0.65%|
|25||M||200m Individual Medley||0.49%|
|28||M||400m Individual Medley||0.30%|