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As other sporting events are canceled, U.S. Olympic Swim Trials are still full steam ahead

As other sporting events are canceled, U.S. Olympic Swim Trials are still full steam ahead

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LINCOLN — When USA Swimming officials announced Thursday that local swimming committees and clubs had been advised to suspend all sanctioned competitions across the country for 30 days, the fate of the U.S. Olympic Trials was not addressed.

No reason to. The Trials, slated to begin June 21 at Omaha’s CHI Health Center, are more than three months away, and there are no plans to cancel that competition.

Josh Todd, president of the Omaha Sports Commission, which is working with USA Swimming to host the event that runs through June 28, said Thursday that the Trials are full steam ahead.

“Swim Trials are still on as of now and we are not stopping our plan to host another successful event,” Todd said in a Thursday afternoon text.

In part, a statement posted Thursday on USA Swimming’s website said the sport’s governing body has suspended its planned events that require traveling and the gathering of groups. The Trials were not specifically mentioned in the statement.

“Over the course of the last seven days, let alone the last 24 hours, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has prompted unprecedented changes within the world of sport. In prioritizing the health and wellness of all our members, as of March 12, USA Swimming has made the decision to suspend all our events, camps, conference, or any occasion that requires individuals to travel and gather for the next 30 days.”

The next big meet for Olympic Trials-level swimmers is set for April 15-18 in Mission Viejo, California. It’s the fourth of five Pro Swim Series meets. The third meet was conducted last week in Des Moines.

With nearly 1,200 swimmers having already met the Trials qualifying standard in at least one event, the pool of athletes that will vie for spots to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympics that begin July 23 is close to being set.

USA Swimming and Omaha Sports Commission representatives have said in multiple conversations that the ideal number of qualifiers would be somewhere between 1,200 and 1,300.

Among the events affected by the 30-day suspension is a long-course sectional meet in Columbia, Missouri, that was scheduled to begin Thursday. Many of the state’s top high school swimmers were scheduled to compete in the meet and take aim at Trials qualifying marks in their favorite strokes.

The Swim Trials pool is scheduled to start being installed May 20 or 21 at the CHI Health Center. The 2020 Trials mark the fourth consecutive time Omaha has hosted the event since 2008.

“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 virus situation and speak daily with health officials, USOPC and USA Swimming ... and hope for the best for everyone,” Todd said in his Thursday text.