USAS Convention: Frank Busch Considering Capping Numbers, Not Times, For Trials

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 33

September 12th, 2012 National, News

The big buzz on Wednesday at the USA Swimming convention in Greensboro, North Carolina is the beginning of a finalized plan for 2016 Olympic qualifying.

The 2016 Olympic Trials, that will determine the team for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are tentatively scheduled from July 4th through July 11th, though there are still a few hoops to jump through to set that in stone. It seems as though, in early returns, new National Team Director Frank Busch isn’t backing any plans to move the trials any earlier. That timing is about the same as we saw ahead of the London Olympics in 2012, as the Rio Games start a week later.

The qualifying standards for the Olympic Trials are still two years away. They will be announced in September of 2014, with the qualifying period going back retroactively to July 30th of that year.

Note that these “standards” are not necessarily going to be times. According to a member of the House of Delegates who was at today’s Senior Development Committee meeting, Busch left the impression that he is leaning toward the 2016 Trials standard being a number of athletes rather than a specific qualifying time. This would stir up plenty of debate both to the pro and the negative, so expect much shouting to be done before that becomes set in stone.

Still, if enacted, it would rattle the swimming community and create a new sort of twinge of competitiveness, where the competition is not just against a number, but literally against beating the guy next to you to ensure you’re higher on the rankings than them. The contrarian view would be that it leaves a lot of uncertainty, and doesn’t allow athletes to hit a standard and then time out their tapers for Trials perfectly.

No discussion yet on possible 2016 trials hosts. There will be a lot of sentiment for the host of this event, Greensboro, who has already announced their candidacy.

Also, in 2014 Junior Nationals will be held before Nationals, so as to allow a more natural buildup. These standards will be the same as what they have been in 2012.

The full Quad Plan, that lays out the path ahead to the 2016 Olympics, can be read here.

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33 Comments on "USAS Convention: Frank Busch Considering Capping Numbers, Not Times, For Trials"

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Sounds like it could be like NCAA qualifying. Why not establish an A cut and a B cut? All the actual contenders for the team would be able to hit the A cuts I imagine and have a secure spot. The swimmers filling out the meet would have to contend with the B cut and number line. The challenge is in making travel and lodging when you are on the bubble, but it seems like a reasonable solution.

How many times have we seen amazing performances from athletes who weren’t even on the swimming radar? At the elite level of swimming, the only factor that consistently separates athletes is mental fortitude. Other than that, anyone has a shot. Make the times harder, but don’t deny athletes the opportunity.

Please name one. I cannot think of a case of someone who has made the team who would have been excluded from trials by reasonably tighter standards.


Yeah, I don’t see the problem either. There might be examples of people coming from a 60-80th seed to make semifinals, but not the Team which… is the whole point of the meet, right? Not to have 2000 kids run around and say they’ve been to Trials

I was referring to swimming in general, not exclusively trials.

But this discussion is specifically about Trials. If OTs are not supposed to be an elite meet, then I don’t know which meet is.

Could they do both? Make some really fast automatic qualifying standards (~20ish swimmers in each event?) and then just say they’ll invite a certain number after that. That might help appease some of the “uncertainty,” though I don’t think there’d be much anyway for the swimmers that have a real legitimate chance at making the team.

I’m sure there are a billion problems with this idea that I’m just not thinking of, though.


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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