(UPDATE) USA Swimming Will Split 2021 Olympic Trials Into Two Separate Meets

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that USA Swimming is planning dramatic changes to the 2021 Olympic Trials. The official announcement about changes to the format is expected to come at 9AM Eastern Time on Tuesday morning.

The meet will be split into two events, with a primary meet (Wave II) being held from June 13-20 and a secondary meet (Wave I) from June 4-7.

The first wave, Wave I, will be the lower 550-650 qualifiers, with the top 2 finishers in each event advancing to the Wave II meet. The Wave II cuts will be set based on the 41st seeded athlete as of today, plus the qualifiers from the Wave I meet. USA Swimming is expecting around 19 more qualifiers per event, which will set the field for each event at around 50 or 60 swimmers per event.

Once a swimmer qualifies for the Wave II meet, they must swim in the Wave II meet, and may swim any “Bonus” Events that they have at least a Wave I Cut in.

That 41 swimmer cut line was based on, from the last 5 Olympic Trials, the lowest-seeded qualifier to make an Olympic Trials final.

The cut between Wave I and Wave II will be made so that all likely Olympic qualifiers will swim in the Wave II event. In the previous 5 Olympic Trials, Erin Phenix, the 38th seed in the 100 free at the 2000 Olympic Trials, was the lowest-seeded swimmer to qualify for the team. Further, Morgan Scroggy in the 200 back at the 2008 Olympic Trials was the lowest-seeded swimmer to make an Olympic Trials final.

Across all events over the last 5 Trials, 91.8% of those to make an Olympic Team for the US have been from the top 10 seeds in an event.

Lowest Seeds to Make the US Olympic Team, Since 2000

38th seed Erin Phenix 6th place in 100 Free 2000 Olympic Trials
30th seed Gunnar Bentz 5th place in 200 Free 2016 Olympic Trials
28th seed Gary Hall Jr. 1st place in 100 Free 2000 Olympic Trials
28th seed Dana Vollmer 1st place in 200 Free 2004 Olympic Trials
28th seed Gary Hall Jr. 3rd place in 100 Free 2004 Olympic Trials

Lowest Seed to Qualify for a US Olympic Trials Final, Since 2000

41st seed Morgan Scroggy 200 Back 2008 Olympic Trials
40th seed Shannon Draves 200 Fly 2012 Olympic Trials
40th seed Kate Dwelley 200 Free 2004 Olympic Trials
38th seed Erin Phenix 100 Free 2000 Olympic Trials
35th seed Katie Cowan 200 Back 2000 Olympic Trials

Both meets will be held in the CHI Health Center Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, as planned.

The standards to qualify for Wave I remain the same as the original Olympic Trials standards, with a qualifying period of November 28, 2018 through May 30, 2021. The Wave II meet has the same qualifying period, but faster standards.

Below are the Wave I and Wave II standards:

Even with the delay of the Olympic Trials by a year, the field for this year’s Trials is substantially smaller than in previous years. At the beginning of 2021, there were under 1300 qualifiers for the Olympic Trials, which is substantially less than the 1700+ seen in previous years.

“We figured out this was the best option, and that it still allowed all athletes to have a crack at the Olympic trials, which, for many athletes is the pinnacle of their careers,” said Mike Unger, USA Swimming Chief Operating Officer. “But it also then allowed us to pick the best Olympic team.”

The new plan assumes that COVID-19 vaccines won’t be widely enough available for the majority of participants in the event to be vaccinated.

USA Swimming also told the Wall Street Journal that it was “extremely likely” that a negative COVID test would be required for every attendee to enter the venue, and that regular on-site testing will also be likely. That system was implemented for the recent Pro Swim Series meets in Richmond and San Antonio, with no reported outbreaks from those events earlier this month.

Other Details:

  • USA Swimming says that the can roughly break even on the Trials with 60% attendance for the Wave II event, which is about 7,700 spectators. At present, state and local officials are allowing 75% capacity for events at the CHI Health Center Arena.
  • The Wave II meet will still be aired on NBC, with arrangements to televise the Wave I meet still under way.
  • USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey acknowledged that the size of the meet is crucial to the ongoing success of American swimming, serving as a carrot for young swimmers even if they are unlikely to make the team.
  • It costs USA Swimming about $3 million to install the two temporary pools in the arena and pay for infrastructure and other event costs.
  • USA Swimming has set up several webinars next week to answer questions from coaches.
  • The Wave II Event Schedule will follow the standard Olympic Trials schedule, announced here. The Wave I meet schedule, condensed into 4 days, is below.

The Tokyo2020 Olympic Games are scheduled for Friday July 23, 2021 – Sunday August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Wave I Event Schedule:

Prelims begin each morning at 10 a.m. CDT, while finals begin at 7 p.m. CDT.

 Women’s Event #  Event Order  Men’s Event #
 Friday, June 4
1 100m Freestyle 2
3 100m Backstroke 4
5 200m Butterfly 6
 7 800m Freestyle* 8
 Saturday, June 5
 9 200m Freestyle 10
 11 100m Breaststroke 12
 13 400m Individual Medley 14
 Sunday, June 6
 15 400m Freestyle 16
 17 100m Butterfly 18
 19 200m Backstroke 20
 Monday, June 7
 21 200m Individual Medley 22
 23 50m Freestyle 24
 25 200m Breaststroke 26
 27 1500m Freestyle* 28

* The 800m and 1500m freestyle events will be conducted as timed finals, with the fastest seeded heat in each of these events swimming in the Finals sessions.  All other heats of the 800m and 1500m freestyle events will swim fastest to slowest, alternating women and men following the conclusion of that  morning’s preliminary session.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

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swimfin5
4 months ago

What about we stop with that stupid corona stuff and start living our lives again. We will all get it eventually anyway

Kitajima Fan
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

Hmm yes, let me ruin my swimming during championship season by “just getting the virus anyway” and destroying my lungs

Come on bro

David
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
4 months ago

Young athletes have about a one in fifty chance a having even minor symptoms from Covid 19. Destroy your lungs? It’s pretty sad how you have been scared into believing that stuff. Unless you vape you have very little to worry about.

oldschool
Reply to  David
4 months ago

David, you don’t read a whole lot do you. Who do you think makes up a big percentage of the Long Haulers? The virus is capricious. And the bad effects are awful. Life changing, especially for a young athlete. Worth rolling the dice for? Ask the long haulers.

David
Reply to  oldschool
4 months ago

Hey Oldschool. Maybe someone old like you needs to worry. The chance of a young athlete having any symptoms from Covid are lower than getting run over by a long hauler in the middle of a highway. The data shows it.

Dan
Reply to  David
4 months ago

Please show the data and its sources.

Swack
Reply to  oldschool
4 months ago

For everyone under the age of 35, COVID is less dangerous than the flu. Do you not realize how dangerous simply existing in the world is? This doesn’t mean 35-and-unders shouldn’t take it seriously (prevent the spread), but acting like a once-in-4-years capstone swim meet might not be “worth rolling the dice” is absurd.

88r
Reply to  David
4 months ago

One in 50 is a 20% chance, that’s pretty big. Stop denying that there is a pandemic present. People like you are making this worse.

Just saying
Reply to  88r
4 months ago

Um…..one in 50 is 2%…..just saying

Former Big10
Reply to  88r
4 months ago

%2 bud… %2 lol… one in fifty is equal to two in 100… %2

Swimpop
Reply to  Former Big10
4 months ago

Ouch that was painful to read, thanks for helping them out Former.

My first job out of college I had to show a VP how to make a percentage. “Which number goes on top?”

Marcelo INETTI
Reply to  Former Big10
17 days ago

Ok.
2 % chance of my parachute not opening up while skydiving…
No thanks.

JimSwim22
Reply to  88r
26 days ago

Um, maths are hard!

Old Swimmer
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

421,000 Americans dead. Thousands more left with severe long term health issues. It’s called saving lives.

Swack
Reply to  Old Swimmer
4 months ago

Thanks for reminding everyone of the national death toll, which happens to be completely irrelevant to the topic.

Swammerstein
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

What a stupid comment, get out of here

Troyy
Reply to  Swammerstein
4 months ago

You must be new here. There’s lots of commenters like this in these parts.

Ghost
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

Go work at a hospital for a week in a hotspot with no. PPE

Harambe
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Please don’t, we don’t need the clueless getting themselves sick while someone is coding

Terry Watts
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

I like my Corona with a lime and a touch of salt…

MarkB
Reply to  Terry Watts
4 months ago

Too soon? Like asking Mary Todd, “Besides that, how was the play?”

Mr Piano
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

The fact that 77 people upvoted this comment is frightening.

swimfin5
Reply to  Mr Piano
4 months ago

86 currently that shows brain

Jebron Lames
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

Oh yeah, let’s make our whole olympic team sick right before the Olympics….

Swack
Reply to  Jebron Lames
4 months ago

So by cutting some of the swimmers from the “real Olympic trials” we will prevent the olympic team from getting COVID? Definitely no way they’ll get it from the airport, travel, social circles, irresponsible teammates, etc. And I’m sure the actual Olympics will make sure our Olympic team is 100% isolated from everyone else…

777
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

Tell that to your grandma when she’s in the icu and can’t breathe.

Swack
Reply to  777
4 months ago

Or, Olympic trials competitors could simply not visit grandma for a week after trials.

Sportinindc
Reply to  swimfin5
4 months ago

My mom died from Covid last week. Standing outside in the freezing cold watching her die through a window is not something I would even wish on you. I hope all your dreams come true.

Jane Smith
Reply to  Sportinindc
17 hours ago

I’m sad to hear about your Mom dying. 🙁 My parents died within 3 1/2 minths if each other 6 years ago and I am still hurting. Hugs from Colorado.

Eek
4 months ago

Top 2 qualifying for a meet that starts 7 days later? That’s one of the more ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in a while

GowdyRaines
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

then what is your alternative?

Eek
Reply to  GowdyRaines
4 months ago

1. Split genders
2. Timed finals
3. Top 25 per event only
99. This

Ghost
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

What a ridiculous thing

coachymccoachface
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

Timed final is better than this? Lol

GowdyRaines
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

USA Swimming would lose an incredible amount of money doing it that way. This is as much a business as it is a sports. Take the blinders off. Doing it this way allows them to break even.

Erik
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

How do you propose which gender gets 8 days less time to prepare for the biggest meet of their lives in the middle of a pandemic or which gender of qualifiers gets 8 more days to get ready for the biggest meet of their lives?

Stan Crump
Reply to  Erik
4 months ago

Easy. Two different sites at the same time.

Tm71
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

Women over five days, two day break, then five days for the men
Top 40 in each event
Prelims in AM, finals in PM
Timed finals for 800 and 1500

Thomas Huggins
Reply to  GowdyRaines
4 months ago

Split the meet by gender, duh?

coach
Reply to  Thomas Huggins
4 months ago

You don’t want two waves because some teams can’t afford to send coaches to two meets, but you want the meet split by gender?

Last edited 4 months ago by coach
clarify
Reply to  GowdyRaines
4 months ago

1.Split male and female formats or sites with swimmers not swimming that day at different locations for warm up and training

  1. Split into different sites w one final at designated site/ move location where this can be accommodated
Walter
Reply to  clarify
4 months ago

In Omaha?

David
Reply to  GowdyRaines
4 months ago

Just hold separate Men’s and Women’s sessions rather than this stupid plan.

Coach Chackett
Reply to  GowdyRaines
4 months ago

Don’t let the top two in.

MoneyMan
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

They won’t make it anyway. The first meet is there to pay the bills on the real meet.

NC Fan
Reply to  MoneyMan
4 months ago

That’s a cynical view. The first meet is there to give swimmers the opportunity to have the best competition of their lives in the most iconic pool setting almost all of them have seen since they were born. While the atmosphere won’t be the same, the atmosphere at prelims never begins to approach the atmosphere at finals. This gives them a chance to swim finals with something real on the line (qualifying for Wave II) which they wouldn’t have as the 70th seeded swimming who doesn’t get out of prelims in ‘regular’ trials. I bet USA Swimming makes it feel like a true finals type environment which will be awesome. Yes, the top 2 will likely swim slower two weeks… Read more »

Ghost
Reply to  NC Fan
4 months ago

How many runners are at Track trials per event? For me our trials are too big and not elite enough! And I think money is the main reason!

NC Fan
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Of course it is about money, and hype, and building overall excitement for the sport. It works too by drawing 18,000 people to Omaha Nebraska in June and giving people reason to talk about swimming. We could do like Australia and focus only on the top 30 swimmers in the country and ignore everyone else….is that really what’s best for growing the sport?

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  NC Fan
4 months ago

Great point

Ghost
Reply to  NC Fan
4 months ago

Have you ever been to australia during a swim meet. I have a few times and they have unbelievable enthusiasm for the sport. Like 10 pages about the meet in the newspaper! And all the people know all the stars…here just Phelps and Katie! Here we pay to put swimming on TV (except Olympics) instead of networks paying USA swimming. Paying to get enthusiasm hasn’t proven to work yet in the USA. Australia is doing something right

NC Fan
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Yes, I have, and the sport is huge and it’s awesome. What’s not awesome is those select few are put under ridiculously immense pressure from way too young an age and other swimmers are missed. Listen to all three sessions of the Missile on the SSPC. They are doing a ton right for a small country, but putting all their hopes in an even smaller basket isn’t among them.

Blackflag82
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

But we’re also significantly better at swimming than track at an international level. I mean, do we really want to start comparing ourselves to a sport where it sometimes happens that the top 3 finishers at the OTs don’t have the olympic standard in the event?

Arguably, one of the reasons we are so much stronger in swimming is because we have meets like OTs where a bunch of swimmers with no shot to make the team get to come, gain experience, and get excited about the next 4 years.

Tm71
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Most track and fields running events are capped at 32, field events and multis at 24

noWay
Reply to  NC Fan
4 months ago

The OT is a qualifying meet for faster swimmers AND a way to get acclimated to swimming with Olympians for the younger ones – whom have a dream about becoming Olympians one day. USA Swimming: you took care of the faster swimmers AND crashed the dream for many.
Further, justifying this with numbers is just an excuse AND if you wanted to go with numbers, making the top 16 should have been the cut NOT the top 8. Making in to the semi-final at the OT is what makes the meet for the younger ones not making the top 8.
Finally, is USA Swimming paying for accommodations for the top 2 swimmers??? Or are these families supposed to… Read more »

noWay
Reply to  NC Fan
4 months ago

Assuming a kid makes it to Wave 2… this kids is supposed to stay at a hotel for 4 days (maybe 5) during wave1; go home; go back to Trials and stay at a hotel again… who is paying for the flights and accommodations? USA Swimming??? Will they ‘reserve’ a room for these folks??? Logistically, this is a nightmare!

tiredofkidsbeingdisappointed.
Reply to  noWay
4 months ago

What do you do if your swimmer has one time in wave 2 but his other 3 are in wave 1? Does he loose his Olympic dream chance in his one best event and swim at the first wave meet – maybe he is top 2 At that meet and then he goes and swims the following weekend in the wave one meet and he is exhausted while the other swimmers are all fresh and tapered. Ridiculous. Plus who’s going to pay for the coaches that have one swimmer and wave one and five swimmers and wave 2 ? If you’re going to split up the meet, it needs to be women one week and then the men the next.… Read more »

MarkB
Reply to  tiredofkidsbeingdisappointed.
4 months ago

Anyone with a Wave 2 time can swim his or her Wave 1 events as a bonus at Wave 2.

Old Rocket Swimmer
Reply to  noWay
4 months ago

Need a Snickers Bar?

Coach Chackett
Reply to  MoneyMan
4 months ago

Ouch. The Real Meet. The A Meet. The 1996 Style-Cut Meet.

Tm71
Reply to  MoneyMan
4 months ago

This year they might have a snowballs chance in hell but they could very well in 2024. We have seen than many times

Swimgeek
Reply to  Eek
4 months ago

What’s wrong with this? They could have said, like Canada, “if you’re not top-40, you CANNOT make the team”. (Canada said top 20). But instead this allows someone who does a crazy breakout swim to punch a ticket to the actual selection meet.

Ghost
Reply to  Swimgeek
4 months ago

To pay for the venue probably….I don’t think that should be the driving reason but probably is

Swimgl
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Omaha lost a lot of money last year as the Trials and the College World Series of Baseball had to cancel because of covid.

Frankie 5 Angels
4 months ago

This plan will be revised prior to June

Pool
Reply to  Frankie 5 Angels
4 months ago

Why do you say that? Obviously USAS put a lot of time and effort into this revised plan and I’m sure they don’t plan to revise it unless absolutely necessary…?

Frankie 5 Angels
Reply to  Pool
4 months ago

If I’ve learned anything in the past 10 months is that nothing is set in stone.

Swack
Reply to  Pool
4 months ago

I’m baffled that anyone still gives USAS admin any credence. The organization (not the athletes) is a complete s*** show.

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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