The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha in June have been split into two events for more than 1,000 anticipated athletes, limiting crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first flight for more than 500 lower-seeded swimmers will be June 4-7, according to USA Swimming, confirming a Wall Street Journal report.
The second wave, for about the top 750 swimmers, including the top two finishers per event from the first wave, will be on the originally scheduled trials dates of June 13-20.
“Given the current environment, and the need to address concerns related to over-crowding in the athlete areas, warm-up pool and athlete seating areas, the decision was made to divide the event into two,” according to USA Swimming.
The top two per individual event at the second wave qualify for the Tokyo Olympic team, plus extra swimmers in the 100m freestyle and 200m free for relays.
Athletes who have met or bettered the current 41st-seeded time in each event will automatically advance to the second wave of trials.
It’s rare for somebody seeded outside the top echelon to qualify for an Olympic team.
The lowest-ranked Olympic team qualifier over the last five Games was Erin Phenix, the 38th seed in the 100m free at the 2000 Trials, according to the Wall Street Journal. Phenix was sixth in the 100m free in 2000, earning the last spot in the 4x100m free relay pool.
Around 1,800 swimmers qualified to compete at the 2016 Olympic Trials. As of last last week, 1,305 athletes met qualifying times for the trials for Tokyo.
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