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USA Swimming Splits Olympic Trials Into Two For COVID Safety

By Todd Kortemeier | Jan. 26, 2021, 1:06 p.m. (ET)

Amanda Weir, Lia Neal, Katrina Konopka, Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials on July 3, 2016 in Omaha, Neb. 


Waves are going to be a big part of this summer’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming, and we’re not talking about the kind in the pool.

For the health and safety of all involved during the COVID-19 pandemic, USA Swimming announced Tuesday that the trials will be split into two parts — Wave I will take place June 4-7 and Wave II will follow on June 13-20. The CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska will remain as the host for both waves. Wave II will serve as the official qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Team.

The decision was made to minimize crowds in athlete areas as more than 1,300 swimmers have qualified for Trials thus far.

“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.”

Part of that evaluation included looking at the past five U.S. Olympic Trials to see what seeds in the trials ended up qualifying for the Olympic Games. With this in mind, USA Swimming adjusted the time standard to the 41st seeded time, meaning athletes must meet this standard in order to qualify for Wave II. This will produce a final field of around 750 athletes competing for a spot on the Olympic team.

The new standard for Wave II takes effect on Jan. 28. Athletes who have already met the standard do not need to requalify. Athletes who qualified under the old time standard have until May 30 to meet the new one. Otherwise, those athletes will be able to compete in Wave I and have a chance to advance to Wave II.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.