Indy lands 2024 U.S. Olympic swim trials, ending Omaha’s run
The next U.S. Olympic swimming team will be determined in a football stadium.
USA Swimming announced Tuesday that its trials for the 2024 Paris Games will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, the massive home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
The decision marks the end of Omaha’s long run as host of the event. The last four U.S. Trials, beginning in 2008, were held in the Nebraska city’s downtown arena, which seated about 14,500 after the temporary pool was installed.
USA Swimming is going for a much bigger show in Indianapolis. Local organizers have proposed a seating arrangement that would allow up to 35,000 fans — by far the largest ever for the trials.
Three temporary pools will be set up over the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, which seats about 67,000 for Colts games. The 50-meter competition pool will be installed at one end, with two warm-up pools — one 50 meters, the other 25 meters — that will go in away from the seating bowl.
“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,” USA Swimming President & CEO Tim Hinchey III said in a statement. “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.”
Indy’s retractable-roof stadium, which opened in 2008, will add to a collection of major events that already includes the Super Bowl, the men’s basketball Final Four, and this past season’s college football national championship game.
The Indiana Convention Center, which is connected to the stadium, will also be used to host USA Swimming’s fan zone and hospitality area.
The exact dates for the trials have not been determined but will likely be in mid- to late June, roughly a month before the Paris Olympics begin on July 26, 2024.
“The sports strategy in Indianapolis was built on a foundation of Olympic sports,” said Ryan Vaughn, president of the Indiana Sports Corp. “We look forward to elevating the sport of swimming and Indy’s reputation as the city where champions are crowned through this event.”
Indy’s selection will mark the 100th anniversary of the city hosting the U.S. swimming trials ahead of the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Indianapolis last held the trials in 2000. In a sign of how much the event has grown, that event was held at the 4,700-seat Indiana University Natatorium. In 2004, the trials were held for the first time in a temporary pool set up in a parking lot outside the Long Beach Convention Center in California, with more than double the seating capacity.
Omaha landed the event in 2008 and kept it for three more quadrennials. The trials generally drew sellout crowds until the 2021 competition, which was delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed only partial capacity as a safety precaution.
The 2021 trials also were divided into two meets due to the pandemic, with a first wave for lower-ranked swimmers held before the main trials. There’s been no word on whether the same format will be used in 2024.
Omaha made another bid for the event in 2024 but was beaten out by Indianapolis. The other finalists were Minneapolis and St. Louis.
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