Looking Forward: How the City of Indianapolis is Preparing for the Largest Swim Meet in United States History 

Olympic Trials - 2024

Looking Forward: How the City of Indianapolis is Preparing for the Largest Swim Meet in United States History 

After a busy summer of 2023, USA Swimming has turned the page toward the Olympic year. The 2023 World Championships have come to a close and many athletes’ sights are now set on the largest event in aquatic sports. However, there is one big step for athletes before they can focus on the Olympic Games in Paris. Swimmers from New York to Alaska and everywhere in-between must focus on the most stressful meet on U.S. soil: the United States Olympic Team Trials. 

For the first time since 2000, the Trials are returning to Indianapolis. The city is preparing to put on the largest meet in American history. Indy will host Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium, the 70,000-seat home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. 

“We were approached by USA Swimming and how they were thinking about putting this meet into a football stadium,” said Sarah Myer, Chief Marketing Officer for Indy Sports Corp (ISC). 

Along with her title as Chief Marketing Officer for ISC, Myer is the event co-director for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

“We do things the Indianapolis way here,” Myer said. “We were ready for the challenge, and we knew that if USA Swimming was going to do this, we were going to take it to the next level. When you hop off the plane in our airport, you will immediately know that Trials are here.” 

The 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials will have the capacity to seat 30,000 fans per session. This is a dramatic increase from the 14,000 seats available in Omaha. 

“This is going to be record breaking with how many people are going to be here,” Myer said. “Indianapolis is the competitive city. They love competition, and they love fast stuff.” 

A Crowded 2024 

To say Indianapolis’ agenda in 2024 is “busy” would be an understatement.  

The year starts with hosting the NBA All-Star Weekend in February. This includes NBA All-Star Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium and the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.  

As the year moves to March, Indy will serve as a host city for March Madness and NCAA Basketball Tournament games.  

April brings a total Solar Eclipse, where Indianapolis is in prime position for viewing the event.  

May rolls in with the Indianapolis 500 taking center stage once again as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” 

Later in the year brings three straight nights of Taylor Swift in November and the B1G Ten Conference football championship game in December. 

For the swimming community, Indianapolis’ crown jewel of 2024 will be the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. For the first time, the meet will take place inside a football stadium. 

In summary, Indianapolis has a packed 2024 which will showcase the hosting capabilities of the city. Myer and Indy Sports Corp will organize many of the events mentioned above and it seems they treat each one with the same mindset: How can we deliver an event that goes above and beyond. 

Preparing for the Swimming Community 

At its core, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials is for the swimming community. The Trials outgrew Omaha and USA Swimming is giving more swim fans the opportunity to see the meet firsthand. One of the main focuses for the Indy Sports Corporation will be the way swim clubs can access the Trials. 

ISC sent a group to observe the Trials in 2021, taking in the experience and understanding the entire process of the meet. Leading into 2024, a major goal for the city is to improve upon the accessibility for swim clubs and their athletes to come to the Trials and practice during the week. 

“We have a committee focused on a putting together the list of pools that will be available and the times that they will be available,” Myer said. “We’ll have housing at Butler and IUPUI’s campus where they will be offering their dorms at a discounted rate and then obviously tons of hotels and places to stay around the city.” 

Indy Sports Corp is trying to make it a full experience for the people who come to Indianapolis. Those who attended the last several Trials in Omaha will be familiar with many different fan opportunities. Indianapolis’ plan is to elevate these attractions. 

The Indiana Convention Center will be filled with the Toyota AquaZone. Additionally, Georgia Street is going to be activated with USA Swimming Live. In the middle of downtown, Monument Circle is being transformed into a hub for everything Team USA and the iconic Indianapolis canal will have a Parisian theme for all nine nights of competition. 

Preparing for the Athletes  

Along with the swimming community, the Indy Sports Corp is trying to fully embrace the Trials experience for the participating athletes. Making the meet memorable for the fans is one thing. However, making sure the experience is exceptional for the athletes is a priority for the ISC. 

“We are assessing everything from hospitality to transportation,” Myer said. “We are asking ourselves how we are taking care of the athletes inside of the stadium and the hotels they are staying at.” 

Myer mentioned having ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ when it comes to hosting their events. For Indy Sports Corp, it’s not just having it, but executing hospitality at the highest level. 

“We’re trying to really pay attention to everything that we’re planning out so it is accessible, it is easy, and we can take a little bit of stress off what is already a massively stressful event,” Myer said. 

On top of the treatment of the athletes, Indy Sports Corp mentioned the treatment of their families. Family members can be at Trials ranging from one to 10 days, depending on the schedule of their swimmer. 

“We’re trying to take it to the next level, how are we taking care of the families, how are we making sure that the family members are having a great time too,” Myer said. “Most will be in Indy multiple days, and we need to make sure it’s a great experience for them because it is stressful just having a kid in the Trials.” 

Filling 30,000 Seats for a Swimming Competition

Swim fans were able to fill up the 14,000-seat CHI Health Center in Omaha back in 2021. They filled it up often enough to where they outgrew the multi-event center. However, 30,000 seats are a completely different task. 

“We are really working in lockstep with USA Swimming and that has been huge,” Myer said about filling Lucas Oil Stadium for the Trials. “They have such a massive membership and more than 25% of members are within driving distance.” 

There are multiple strategies the ISC is taking to try to fill Lucas Oil Stadium. These include grassroots marketing, incorporation of Indianapolis’ corporate community, and the use of national swimming ambassadors.  

Ultimately the city of Indianapolis is trying to put on an event that the swimming community has never experienced before. The plan is in motion for the path to Paris to come through a city that prides itself on being the home for racing and speed.

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Bob Griswold
Bob Griswold
6 months ago

I’d like to know exactly how they are going to build a regulation swimming pool in a football stadium – will the pool be temporary or permanent? Will they be able to cover it up and play football on top of it?

Rachael
Rachael
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Griswold

Yes, the pool will be temporary. This is often done for a diving well. How it’s done, not sure.

Lisa Vitro
Lisa Vitro
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Griswold

They build non permanent Myrtha pools all the time
https://www.myrthapools.com/en/competition-pools/temporary-pools/

Jim Lutz
Jim Lutz
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Griswold

Every OT since 2000 has used temporary pools and they sell them after the trials

Karla RIVERS
Karla RIVERS
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Griswold
Benjamin Baum
Benjamin Baum
6 months ago

Congrats ISC and Sarah. It will happen because of all the great pre-work and Hoosier Hospitality. US Olympic Team Trials is the toughest meet to advance out of to the Olympics. To those reading : Think about this, only 2 competitors per event go to the Olympics (not counting relays). Swim 3 x to get to Paris. Quals, Semis, next night Finals. You can finish #7 or 10 or 15th+ and be # 1 or 2 in many other countries. This will be my 5th US Team Trials. My 1st? IUPUI in 2000 on the way to Sydney. I’m pumped. 30,000 fans per session. We’re going to do it‼️
Go Indy👏👏👏 Go USA🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

David Abineri
David Abineri
6 months ago

And all this plus the Masters Swimming Nationals t IUPUI!

Jennjennbrenn
Jennjennbrenn
6 months ago

Why is it not returning to the original pool for trials; IUPUI Natatorium??? That place is HUGE! I LOVED looking at all those names painted on the wall in the diving well area! Felt something magical competing in the same place all our idols swam 💕

Angello J Malefakis
Angello J Malefakis
6 months ago

Bravo 👌👌👌👏👏👏 to Indianapolis in holding the trials at Lucas stadium! This is what is needed to take swimming competition to the next level. Swimming really lacks leadership and foresight! This is on target 🎯🎯🎯 100 percent! Just compensate the athletes better than what you have done in the past which was lousy! In turn the ticket prices for spectators should be affordable at the very least. I applaud this decision! Lucas Field is the best venue for a swimming competition with 30,000 spectators.

Sandy Thatcher
Sandy Thatcher
6 months ago

Do the author of this article and Sarah Myer really not know that US Masters Swimming will be hosting its 2024 Spring Nationals in Indianapolis at the IUPUI pool on June 20-24, partly coinciding with the Trials? https://www.usms.org/fitness-and-training/articles-and-videos/articles/usms-to-host-2024-spring-nationals-in-indianapolis-in-conjunction-with-olympic-trials? Can you imagine any people more likely to be interested in watching the Trials than the dedicated swimmers of ISMS, which include many former Olympians? I am shocked that Swimming World missed the opportunity to highlight the coincidence of these events and take advantage by, for example, interviewing some of these former Olympians who are still competing into their 80s.

wilbrandt thierry
wilbrandt thierry
6 months ago
Reply to  Sandy Thatcher

As an Indy Aquatic Masters member, I wholeheartedly agree that this is an oversight. The short course Masters national championships will be held at the infamous natatorium on the Iupui campus.

R S
R S
5 months ago

Nice article; however, there were no details about when the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials will actually take place in Lucas Oil Stadium … For those wondering… It will be June 15th to June 23rd… https://www.usaswimming.org/news/2023/01/25/u.s.-olympic-team-trials-swimming-2024-event-order-announced

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