Top Five Swim Meets to Watch in Olympic Year 2020

It is finally 2020: the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

2020 is already here: time to take a look at what’s coming up in the sport of swimming this year. A new decade dawns, as does another Olympic year. Rio 2016 feels a long way back. Here comes Tokyo 2020. It is an exciting time for swimmers and swimming; and not just because the Olympics are happening this year.

Here are five big swim meets ands series to watch in 2020.

European Championships


Katinka Hosszu soaks in the Budapest crowd at the 2017 World Championships. Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

When: May 11 – May 17

Where: Budapest, Hungary

Why Watch? To hear the thunderous roar every time Katinka Hosszu and Kristof Milak step on to the deck.

Budapest has hosted a number of international events over the years, starting with the 2017 World Championships. The Danube Arena played host to the FINA Champions Series, World Cup, World Juniors and the ISL all within the last year so the Hungarians know how to put on a show. And the Hungarian crowds have been fantastic.

The Hungarians swam phenomenally in Budapest at the 2017 Worlds, and when they host the 2020 Europeans, expect the likes of Hosszu, Milak and Boglarka Kapas to benefit greatly from the crowd. And who knows, we might see Laszlo Cseh’s iconic bald head one more time.

Some of swimming’s most famous faces are likely to be in attendance with Hosszu and Milak being the biggest draws for the home crowd. Expect the likes of Sarah SjostromAdam PeatyGregorio PaltrinieriFlorent ManaudouRanomi Kromowidjojo and Federica Pellegrini to put on a show in Budapest as they gear up for the Tokyo Olympics.

And did you know that all eight of the World Championships finalists in the men’s 1500 this year were European? Paltrinieri, Mykhailo Romanchuk and Florian Wellbrock were a part of an incredible race over 1500 meters in Korea this summer, with Wellbrock winning by a second over Romanchuk. Paltrinieri is the reigning Olympic champion while Wellbrock is the reigning World and European champion. Add in Romanchuk and this will be a can’t-miss race. Maybe the winner can get under Sun Yang’s 14:31 world record.

Australia’s Olympic Trials

swims in the 2016 Australian Swimming Chamionships, Day 2 at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide onFriday, April 7, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Steve Christo)

Jess Ashwood and Tamsin Cook react to punching their tickets to the Rio Olympics; Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

When? June 14 – June 19

Where? Adelaide, Australia

Why Watch? What is better than watching swimmers make their dreams come true by qualifying for the Olympic Games? Plus, the Australians had an incredible summer at the World Championships, winning four of the eight relays in Korea.

Ariarne TitmusCate Campbell and Kyle Chalmers are just some of the gold medal favorites for the Aussies moving forward to TokyoMinna Atherton has set the ISL ablaze this fall with her short course meters swims. And Mack Horton is looking to defend his 400 free gold from Rio. With this meet falling the week before the US Trials, they will want to send out warning messages to their American rivals ahead of the Games. The Australians have one of their strongest teams ever in place this year, so you will not want to miss what they will put up at their Olympic Trials.

The Aussies have shifted their Trials to closer to the end of the year meet the last two years in similar fashion to the Americans and it has paid dividends for the green and gold.

US Olympic Trials


2016 Olympic Trials venue. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

When: June 19 – June 28

Where: Omaha, Nebraska

Why Watch? Because it is on live TV in primetime in the United States, and there is no reason not to.

The environment at the US Olympic Trials is unlike any swim meet in the world; including the Olympic Games. With up to 13,000 people in the stands for each session, the atmosphere is intense, nerve racking, and exciting. The US Olympic Trials is the kind of environment that a lot of international swimmers envy, and it is a bucket list item for any fan of the sport, no matter what country you are from.

The best part of the Olympic Trials is seeing the faces of each swimmer when they make the team, whether it’s their first time they have made it or their fifth time. Who will make their first team in Omaha? Who from Rio will secure a spot back to Tokyo? This meet has been the target point for every elite swimmer in the country and it will certainly be a must-watch.

Olympic Games


The Tokyo venue – an artist’s impression – Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

When: July 25 – August 2

Where: Tokyo, Japan

Why Watch? Because it’s the Super Bowl of our sport and everyone will be talking about it.

The Olympic Games is the sport of swimming’s pinnacle. Dreams will be realized and legends will be made. World records will be set and upsets will happen. And plus, all your non-swimming friends will (probably) think swimming is the coolest thing in the world during those eight days.

At World Championships this summer, the general consensus of every athlete was “next year is what really matters.” World Championship medals are important but the Olympics is where it counts the most. This is our Super Bowl. Our World Cup. Our World Series. It is what every swimmer strives for, and you won’t want to miss an opportunity to see your favorite swimmer get his or her highly coveted Olympic gold medal that they have dreamt their entire life of achieving.

ISL Season 2


The ISL’s inaugural meet in Indianapolis. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

When: TBD

Where: TBD

Why Watch? We’ve already seen what the ISL looks like in year one. Olympic sports generally see a boost in fan interest every four years after the Games, and with the ISL already established: what will its second year look like?

There were some kinks to be worked out, and definitely some experimenting still to be done by event organizers. ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin has stated in interviews that he wanted to bring in more teams and set a designated season for the league with over three times as many competitions as there are now, beginning in September with a championship concluding in April. Swimmers are finally getting an opportunity to be exposed on the international stage more often and get a chance to race people from all around the world more frequently. The athletes love the ISL but the general public seems to be lagging behind.

How will the league look after the boom of the Olympics? Will they be able to sell out a 10,000 capacity basketball arena like the US Olympic Trials for the League Final every year? Will there be sponsors and commercializing of the league? Only time will tell, and that’s why you should pay attention to the meet.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Alan Atkinson

    Oh, what an exciting year or promises to be. Being it on! 💪🥇🌎🌏🌍🏆👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻