The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials Are a Meet of Moments. Capture Yours.

The meet of tears. The meet of redemption. The meet of magic.

The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials have so many different nicknames because the meet is so many things to so many different people.

For some people it’s the beginning of an Olympic career. For some it’s the end of a career. For others it’s somewhere in the middle, a chance to learn what you need to learn to build toward the next one in four years.

For some it’s just about an experience. For some, just being there is a goal fulfilled. For some, it represents an opportunity to achieve a goal, a semi-final, a final, make a team, make THE team.

In the buildup to the meet, there has been a lot of handwringing about the sport. Is the venue to big? Are tickets too expensive? How will NIL impact the future of swimming? Is the doping system failing? These are all big and important topics.

But for these 9 days in Indianapolis, those questions aren’t important. Not for the athletes, anyway. Those questions are still important this week for those of us in the media, coaches, team owners, administrators, and USA Swimming leadership. It’s a time for athletes to take a few breaths and push those thoughts away for a few days.

For the athletes, this week is about the pageantry and the spectacle. And the pageantry and the spectacle of the 2024 US Olympic Trials, in Lucas Oil Stadium, with 20,000 people per session, is about the moment.

At the Olympic Trials, media is seated behind the blocks. We can see the athletes walking to the pool, we can see the athletes leave the pool. They enter focused, they leave exhausted. Some swim best times. Most don’t.

But in between, I would encourage every athlete, before they walk down the stairs to cool down, to pause, turn around, take a breath, and look up at that big grandstand. Look at all of the people who came to watch you swim. Sure, they also came to watch Katie Ledecky swim, and Lilly King swim, and Caeleb Dressel swim. But they also watched you swim. They paid obscene amounts of money to watch you swim. Wave to your family. Wave to the little girls who don’t know who you are but still want to grow up to be just like you. Look someone in the eye and smile.

Take that breath, absorb it, commit it to memory. This opportunity is one that so few in the world in any field get to experience, people paying money to watch you do your job or your hobby or your passion project. The eyeballs. So many eyeballs.

You get a view of the whole thing that nobody else gets. You’re going to regret it if you don’t take that moment to remember it.

The US Olympic Trials is a meet of moments. Every one of those moments deserves its own closure. Then we turn the page and move on to the next one.

Good luck to everyone the rest of the week. We hope you get your moment.

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1 month ago

Thanks for this article Braden. It is a privilege to just be at this meet. The Olympics notwithstanding the Trials is the most exciting and emotional swim meet on the planet. Have fun swimmers!

VA Steve
1 month ago

I loved Ledecky’s comments about getting nervous on the blocks with the atmosphere. If properly channeled, it’s an advantage.

YMCA Swammer
1 month ago

Dangit Braden! Now I’m crying and Finals haven’t even started.

1 month ago

So true.! Take a pause. Enjoy the moment. It might be the only chance you get.

Post grad swimmer
1 month ago

Lovely writing

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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