SPA at the Olympic Trials - Part I


In less than 300 days, the best swimmers in the country will meet in Omaha, Nebraska for the biggest event for many US swimmers – the United States Olympic Team Trials - Swimming. It will be the fourth Trials in a row held in Omaha. Originally held for the sole purpose of selecting the Olympic team, Trials has grown into the most elaborate swimming event on U.S. soil other than the Olympic Games themselves. Prior to 2008, Trials had been held in venues with at most seats for 4500 spectators. In 2008 the Trials were held at a convention center/arena with two temporary pools and 14,500 seats. An “Aqua Zone” was added which gave fans interactive experiences besides just watching. In 2016, over 1800 swimmers competed in front of sold-out seats over 15 sessions. An estimated 200,000 spectators attended, and 100,000 fans took part in the Aqua Zone. Over 36 million viewers watched live television coverage of the competition. For 2020(1) an effort has been made to reduce the number of swimmers by shortening the qualifying period and adjusting the time standards required to qualify. Still, it is expected that over 1300 swimmers will be competing for a place on the US Olympic team which limited to a maximum of 26 men and 26 women.

Going back to 1988, Saint Petersburg Aquatics has been represented at every version of the Olympic Trials except one – 1996. There have been nine Olympic Trials in that timeframe including the upcoming event in 2021. What has been the experience of SPA at the trials? First, we will look at just the numbers and then in upcoming episodes, the athletes competing at each version of the Trials that have Saint Petersburg Aquatics in their pedigree.

SPA by the numbers:

Eighteen – individuals who have or will have competed at Trials with Saint Petersburg Aquatics in their pedigree from 1988 to 2021.

Eleven – the number of female athletes in those 18.

Seven – the number of male athletes in those 18.

One - swimmer who will have competed at four different Trials.

Two - swimmers who have competed in three different Trials.

Seven – swimmers who will have competed in two different Trials.

Eight - the most swimmers with a SPA pedigree competing at a single Trials.

Three - swimmers from one family.

Two - swimmers from a second family.

Thirteen - the youngest swimmer attaining a Trial cut was 13 at the time.

Fifteen - four swimmers were 15 when they first competed at Trials.

Two - swimmers thus far who have succeeded in making the US Olympic team.

Four – the number of gold medals won by those two swimmers (3 and 1) at the Olympic games.

Up next -The Athletes: 1988, 1992 and 1996


Article written by:  Joe Finke