A Shoutout to the Olympic Trials’ Wave I Swimmers


A Shoutout to the Olympic Trials’ Wave I Swimmers

By Mauro Pacsi, Swimming World College Intern

It is not news that the U.S. Olympic Trials are taking place. Wave II began this week while Wave I took place a week before. The Olympic Trials contains the top 1% of swimmers in the nation. It is a meet that is difficult to make, packed with pressure, and all of its participants are proud to attend. However, some people say that the great value of Trials is diminished with the two qualifying waves this summer. That is because Wave II is the faster of the waves and has the strongest competition. The top two qualifiers in each event in Wave I are the only swimmers to advance to Wave II. Yet, in my opinion, there should be no discrediting the athletes in the first wave. They earned their right to compete and here are some things that they should be proud of.

You Made Olympic Trials. Period.

There is no arguing this simple fact. The Olympic Trials are the Olympic Trials, and that will never change. A majority of the athletes who participate will not make the team. However, that is the nature of the meet, and that is okay. The competition is stacked to the brim with talent and new faces will continue to emerge. Getting the chance to compete in the fastest meet on American soil, knowing that you are going against the best, is a thrilling and compelling feeling that no one can take away from you.

You Are Among the Best in the Nation

As previously stated, the competition at the Olympic Trials is incredible. Therefore, you who have competed, are incredible. The amount of hard work and dedication you put in to get to this meet does not go unnoticed. You still had challenging races and you got to swim in the pool in Omaha, first! If anything, having raced before Wave II brought more attention to you, which is a fantastic experience! However, that attention also brought pressure, and trying to finish top two in your event to go to Wave II had to be stressful. That did not matter, though, because you faced the pressure head-on and thrived.

You Were the Stars of the Show

Some people like to mention that Wave I missed a field of stars and established faces in the sport. However, because of that, it opened the swimming world to the upcoming generation of America’s future stars. Storylines were born in the form of amazing races, one that comes to mind first is the 800 free, where Navy Teammates Luke Johnson and Garret McGovern claimed the top two spots. In addition, a lot of athletes used their newfound publicity to have some of the best walkouts I have seen in a while. Graham Hauss seemed to stroll in from work in his khakis and dress shirt. Meanwhile, Parker Macy must have just had his graduation as he donned his cap and gown. I am not sure Wave II can keep up with that!

To see so many bright futures and athletes having the time of their lives was special in Wave I. The future generation of swimming is upon us, and it is only certain that most of these young athletes will return for the next Olympic Trials. Until then, there will be more work to be done and more challenges to face. However, this is nothing new to these athletes who race at the fastest meet in America. They know what they must do, and they are recognized by their peers and coaches in the swimming community. For anyone to try and take away their achievements is ludicrous. So, to any Wave I swimmers who may read this, thank you for exemplifying what it means to be a swimmer at Olympic Trials. As spectators, the rest of us live through your experiences and have had a breathtaking time doing so.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. avatar
    John Twobad

    Sorry, but the real reason so many are in the trials is because US Swimming wants the revenue to help cover costs of staging the event. Single-session tickets were $25, $20 or $15 each, depending on location. And think about how many sessions were held between Wave 1 & 11.
    As of May 19, 1,565 athletes qualified for Trials, with 907 in Wave 1 and 658 in Wave II. Of the qualified athletes, 837 of those athletes have qualified in multiple events.
    Time standards used to be there for a purpose: to limit the number of entrants to those who had an outside chance of making the team. The trials ran more smoothly with fewer heats and the best athletes qualified.
    There are those who would argue that “but it is a good experience, prepping new comers for the trials in four years.” Seriously? How many of those who finished lower than #25 in 2020 are even at the meet this year? There were as many as 96 entrants in one event in the Wave 1– or a minimum of 12 heats.
    My curmudgeonly take is, set the standards to limit the number of entrants to about forty per event. Have only one meet. And let US Swimming pick up more of the cost of holding the event. Right now, probably over 1400 athletes, their families, and the home teams probably paid quite a lot for transportation, room and board, just to participate and watch the Trials.

    • avatar
      John Twobad

      Sorry, that sentence should have read, “How many of those who finished lower than #25 in 2016
      are even at the meet this year?”

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