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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Swimming into the 2024 Summer Olympics

Indianapolis is pulling out all the stops for this historic event

Indianapolis is hosting the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming on June 15-23, qualifying athletes for this year’s Summer Games in Paris, France. The event will be momentous in more ways than one.

For starters, five-time Olympic medalist and 11-time World Champion breaststroker Lilly King – a native of Evansville – is set to compete for a chance to appear in what would be her last Olympic Games, in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststrokes.

King’s impact on her sport has been large. She specializes in the breaststroke and was undefeated in the 100 breaststroke (both meters and yards) in every format from 2016 to 2021. Meanwhile, out of the pool, King remains an anti-doping advocate.

Photo provided by Indiana Sports Corp.

Aside from the rare opportunity to see King compete so close to home, there are many other reasons this event will be historic.

In 1924, Indianapolis hosted a Swimming Trials, and that Olympic team also would go on to swim in Paris. One hundred years later, the Trials return to Indianapolis, and the city has pulled out all the stops.

“For the first time, the event will be staged on a football field, as Lucas Oil Stadium is tapped to host the nine-day Olympic-qualifying meet in front of hundreds of thousands of families, friends, and fans,” explains Dan Gliot, senior director of marketing and communications at Indiana Sports Corp.

The Indiana Sports Corp. is a nonprofit organization focused on bringing premier sporting events to the state. Having the Trials on a football field increases seating capacity up to 35,000, making it the largest crowd for any indoor swim meet ever. That record was held by the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which amassed 25,000 people in one place, according to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

“Indianapolis is attempting to break a world record on June 15, which is the opening day of the trials,” says Clare Clark, Senior Communications Manager at Visit Indy. “By having over 16,000 fans inside Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis will set the record for the biggest crowd at a swim meet.”

Besides the world record, the city is going out of its way to connect this year’s U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Photo provided by Indiana Sports Corp.

The Indiana Sports Corp is partnering with the Latinas Welders Guild to build a 66-foot-tall Eiffel Tower. This tower will stand on a 25-by-25-foot base on Georgia Street and be positioned in front of the Indiana Convention Center. The tower will light up at night, and visitors can walk under the tower as well.

For her part, King is most excited about seeing Lucas Oil Stadium transformed for her events. The stadium will pump 2 million gallons of treated White River water into three temporary pools – one 50-meter competition pool and, hidden behind a curtain, two warmup pools measuring 50 meters and 25-meters.

“I’ve been much more involved in the Trials this time around,” the F.J. Reitz High School alumna says. “I am on the organizing committee, so it has been nice to see behind the scenes, and I am looking forward to seeing the new pools.”

King was featured in the bid video to have the Trials take place in Indianapolis and thinks the city is a great spot for the Trials. “We have half of our major meets in Indy for championship types of qualifiers,” she says. “We swimmers all kind of feel home in Indy at this point.”

If she’s selected, the 2024 Olympics will be King’s last.

Photo of Lilly King provided by CG Sports Company

“This will definitely be my last Olympics. In this sport, at least, I am getting old,” she laughs. “I’ve been in the game for a while, so it’s time to move on.”

While it’s a tough transition, King sees it as necessary. She is still training similarly to when she was younger, but she says she must adapt her recovery techniques, learning to give her body grace and patience as she prepares for the Trials. She is hoping to do as many competitions as she can before retiring from the sport.

“I am not quite sure what my retirement date will be, but I know I want to compete after the summer for a bit,” she adds.

Those in Evansville wanting to cheer for King can make the 171-mile drive via Interstate 69 to Indianapolis, which will boast many other worthwhile activities and chances to meet athletes.

“The Indiana Convention Center will host the Toyota Aqua Zone, a free, family-friendly fan fest running every day of the Olympic Swimming Trials,” Gliot says. There, athletes will make appearances, and visitors can partake in unique activities focused on art, music, technology, and entertainment.

“There is truly something for everyone to experience and enjoy while in downtown Indy for the Olympic Swimming Trials,” Gliot says.

When You Go
2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials
June 15-23
Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S. Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana
Tickets to preliminary sessions start at $15. Tickets to finals races start at $35.

Seeking Clean Competition

A vocal advocate for clean sports competing, Lilly King told the New York Times in May that she is “not confident” in the sport’s anti-doping process. In April, the World Anti-Doping Agency determined that the 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive back in early 2021 for performance enhancing drugs (and who would later compete in the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan) would be cleared of any accusations. The agency agreed to the findings from China’s anti-doping agency, saying that the drug positives came as a result to environmental contamination in a hotel kitchen.

“It felt like it had all been swept under the rug and no suspension had been given,” King says. “It’s frustrating that I have to say something. It’s like, don’t help them cheat. Hopefully we can get some reform.”

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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