INDIANAPOLIS — The first time Indianapolis ever hosted the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials was at a Broad Ripple pool in 1924 before the Games of the VIII Olympiad in Paris.
One hundred years later, the best of American swimmers will once again splash down in Indianapolis as Lucas Oil Stadium will host the qualifying rounds of another Paris Olympics.
“We’re gonna make history as we set records here at Lucas Oil Stadium,” said Tim Hinchey III, president & CEO of USA Swimming. “Some highlights will include nine days of competition this time around, we’ll have 17 sessions of swimming, we’ll have dozens of hours of broadcast hours, 100,000 square feet of fan activation activities in the Toyota Aquazone, we’re gonna have unparalleled hospitality in the USA Swim House and so much more.”
The 2024 Olympic trials will mark the second time Indianapolis has hosted a high-profile swimming competition in a non-traditional location. In 2004, two temporary swimming pools were constructed on the floor of then-Conseco Fieldhouse for the FINA short course world championships. The Lucas Oil plan will more than double the Conseco configuration.
“There were two 25-meter pools at Conseco,” said Ryan Vaughn, president of Indiana Sports Corporation. “Here we’re doing two 50-meter pools plus another 25 yards, so it’s gonna take every bit of four weeks and several million dollars to happen.”
The 2024 trials will mark the first time the competition has ever been held in an NFL stadium with a record capacity of 35,000 seats.
The most recent Olympic trials were held in a Nebraska convention center.
“In Omaha they projected the impact of $74 million which, of course, was a smaller venue with fewer days of competition than being contemplated here,” said Vaughn. “So, I think it’s very reasonable to say that we’ll probably hit the $100 million mark for economic impact.”
USA Swimming and its partners also pledge to commit $400,000 to legacy projects to bring the sport to underserved communities in Indianapolis.
“We won’t know the impact for several years,” said Jim Inskeep, athletic director at Carmel High School, a perennial state powerhouse in swimming. “You look at this five years down the road, 10 years down the road, I think that they’ll look at the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis as a tipping point and even bigger and better things for putting central Indiana swimming on the map.”
Inskeep anticipates that competitive suburban pools will be open for qualifiers to practice.
“To have those big names here in town, and they’ll spend more than just a few days here, is going to be huge on the swimming scene, and the coaches are all really excited about it, and when you think about those younger kids being able to see those kids, those top notch world class swimmers walking in and out of their own facility, that’ll be something that they remember for a long time.”
Lilly King, of Evansville, has been winning Olympic gold medals since 2016, and said she “gets butterflies” every time she arrives in Indianapolis and drives past Lucas Oil Stadium recalling all the competitive swimming she’s done there.
“I’m really, really excited to swim here in just two years,” she said. “Kinda crazy that we’re here already, and hopefully be able to make my third Olympic team here at home in Indianapolis.”