Voice For the Sport: Return Of United States Olympic Trials to Indy Just Seems Right

Olympic Trials - 2024

From the May issue of Swimming World Magazine, Editor-in-Chief John Lohn sees the return of the United States Olympic Trials to Indianapolis as a terrific decision.

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We’re going to Indianapolis, and while we have been to the Midwest city on numerous occasions, the next visit will be far different. In a football stadium. With potentially more than 30,000 fans. Boasting an atmosphere that our sport – almost surely – has never seen before in this country.

In late March, USA Swimming officially announced that the 2024 Olympic Trials will return, for the first time in 24 years, to Indianapolis. The event will mark Indy’s seventh opportunity to host Trials, the famed IU Natatorium handling the task four times. But in a little more than two years, the competition will be held inside Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

It’s a great call for the premier event in the United States.

Before we look at the meet’s return to Indianapolis, which won a four-city battle for hosting duties, it would be inappropriate to not tip the cap to Omaha, which served as host for the past four editions of Trials – 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2021. The Nebraska city was superb in its role, as the Olympic Trials moved into an arena setting for the first time and the athletes were given a Red Carpet to display their talents. Meanwhile, the people were welcoming, embracing the sport with open arms.

Change, however, is inevitable, and USA Swimming – to its credit – has envisioned greater growth for its marquee competition. How does that happen? Well, moving the meet into a massive stadium featuring significantly larger crowds does the job, and it happens that Indianapolis offered those options.

While Omaha’s CHI Health Center could accommodate nearly 15,000 fans for a Trials session, Indy may seat a crowd twice that size. Not only would that kind of attendance help promote the sport on a grander scale, it would go down as one of the most-watched, in-person competitions in history. The athletes deserve such fanfare.

“From Day One, I truly believed that there was no bigger, more exciting, everything-on-the-line Olympic event in this country than the Swimming Trials and envisioned the heights that we could take it to,” said Tim Hinchey, USA Swimming’s President and CEO. “Given their track record, we are incredibly confident and excited in Indianapolis’ ability to conduct a technically flawless competition and to stage a world-class event.”

When the topic of great swimming states is raised, California and Florida are offered immediately – and for good reason. Indiana, though, deserves lofty billing, too. The Hoosier State routinely produces Olympic-caliber stars and its high school championships can be argued as some of the best – perhaps No. 1 – in the U.S. So, given the tradition of the sport in Indiana, it makes sense to bring Trials back.

As part of the agreement to bring Trials to Indy, USA Swimming and the Indiana Sports Corp will commit a total of $400,000 to Legacy Projects to guarantee enhanced access to water for children in underserved areas of the Indianapolis area. The groups will work with programs and facilities in need of assistance, with the goals of promoting the sport of swimming and the life-saving skills of water safety.

Additionally, there is an historical connection to hosting the 2024 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. In 1924, the event was held in Indy, with qualifying athletes – including the legendary Johnny Weissmuller – advancing to the Olympic Games in Paris. One hundred years later, the athletes who qualify will chase Olympic hardware in….Paris. Call it perfect symmetry.

Through the years, Indianapolis has staged a variety of high-profile meets, including the 2004 World Short Course Championships, U.S. Nationals, the World Junior Championships, and the Duel in the Pool. Now, the United States’ headliner competition is heading back to a city that is a perfect fit.

Indy and swimming.

Swimming and Indy.

They go together.

The 2024 Trials in the city? It just seems right.

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Jessy Forbes
2 days ago

When is Team USA going to hold paralympic and olympic trials together as ONE TEAM, like other countries have been doing for years? The contrast between the paralympic and olympic experience at trials and training camp is quite jarring.

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