OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — After being postponed last year due to COVID-19, the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials are coming back to Omaha in June and will split into two events to help keep everyone involved safe.
On Tuesday, USA Swimming along with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the Omaha Sports Commission announced the revised plan and schedule for the Olympic Trials.
They will be divided into two competitions at the CHI Health Center, with Wave I on June 4-7 and Wave II on June 13-20.
USA Swimming says Wave II will continue serving as the sole qualifier for swimmers on the U.S. Olympic Team to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
As of January 20, 2021, a total of 1,305 athletes had qualified for the Olympic Trials since the qualifying window opened on Nov. 28, 2018.
Due to COVID-19 and the need to address concerns related to overcrowding, officials decided to split the event into two.
“We undertook a thorough and methodical evaluation of the Trials over the last several months and factored in several critical considerations in our decision,” USA Swimming Chief Operating Officer Mike Unger said. “Our number one priority was to find a way to host Trials in the safest possible environment while also giving the athletes the best opportunity to succeed. While selecting the Olympic Team for Tokyo is a critical goal for the Trials, it is important to note that the experience gained at Trials by some of the lower seeded athletes has historically provided a great experience for future Olympic Trials (and Games), which fueled our desire to host two events.”
Josh Todd, President/Executive Director of the Omaha Sports Commission added: "The Omaha Sports Commission is excited with the new, dual event plan for Trials, which provides us with the opportunity to stage not one, but two marquee events in the city of Omaha. We are working closely with the CHI Health Center team and are committed to delivering a safe and memorable experience for every athlete coming to Omaha to chase their dreams and to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team."
Additionally, USA Swimming is adjusting the current Trials time standard in each event. See more information below:
"A thorough evaluation of the past five Olympic Trials (2000-2016) was undertaken to review what seeds entering the Olympic Trials previously qualified for the Olympic Team, and the Olympic Trials finals. Historical data shows that the lowest (slowest) seeded athlete to make the Olympic Team was the 38th seeded athlete (in 2000), and the lowest (slowest) seeded athlete to make an Olympic Trials final was the 41st seeded athlete (in 2008). Given this and other data, USA Swimming will adjust the current Trials time standard in each event to the current 41st seeded time, and athletes who have met or bettered that time will automatically advance to Wave II of the Trials.
These newly adjusted Wave II time standards also factor in a possible modest growth to 50-60 athletes per event in the four months leading into the Olympic Trials, generating a final field of approximately 750 total athletes.
This new Wave II standard will take effect on January 28, 2021 and run through the close of qualifying for the Olympic Trials on May 31, 2021. Athletes who have already achieved the revised time standard do not have to requalify.
Athletes who qualify using the original time standards, but do not meet the Wave II time standards prior to May 31, 2021, will be invited to compete in Wave I of the Trials where they still swim for a chance to advance to Wave II by finishing first or second in the finals of their individual event."
See more information at usaswimming.org.