Wielgus talks about having Trials in Omaha, and the benefits that Trials have for the growth of the sport in the USA. He likes the fact that Trials build up a big atmosphere, and that it has become a very legitimate sporting event. “Other events now pay attention to us,” he states, as the attention from other sporting bodies and the media has increased since the Trials have been in Omaha.
In that vein, he talks about how swimmers who miss the Olympic team (most of the participants) will be motivated to come back and get another shot at it. When they go home, they spread stories and talk about how amazing the meet was, which brings out more interest in swimmers’ hometowns.
On the sheer number of athletes participating this week, Wielgus says that 1200-1400 is the range that USA Swimming is looking for. Wielgus admits that they’ve missed the mark the last three OTs, but when they lower time standards by marginal amounts, people find ways to drop those extra tenths the next time they try to qualify.
Wielgus wants the Trials to happen in Omaha again in 2020, though timing is a big issue. Because the Tokyo Games start two weeks earlier in the summer than the Rio Games are scheduled to, the Trials will be pushed back two weeks– that coincides with the College Baseball World Series, which are also held in Omaha. Wielgus said that the two events can “coexist,” but it isn’t a very ideal scenario. Planning for 2020’s Trials will start after they see how this summer goes.
Finally, Wielgus addresses the doping that has run rampant in sports as Rio draws nearer. He believes that more resources should be directed towards “investigative services” in an effort to uncover doping instances earlier and with more efficacy. Wielgus notes that USA Swimming can’t do much about doping in other parts of the world, so it’s up to the appropriate agencies (like the WADA) to get the job done better going forward, and to do so with more resources.