Swimming

The Omaha 18: Swimmers Who Competed at All Four Omaha Trials Meets

The 2024 US Olympic Trials will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, primarily a football stadium, which means that the four-quad run in Omaha is over.

Double Olympic gold medalist Tom Shields mused on Twitter that he was there for the entirety of the “Omaha era” of the U.S. Olympic Trials, meaning that he competed in all four meets held at the Qwest Center/CenturyLink Center/CHI Health Center.

Crazy to think that I attended—as an athlete—the entire “Omaha era” of trials.. wonder how many did

— Tom Shields (@beefyTshields) March 29, 2022

Luckily, we have swimming’s greatest statistician, Barry Revzin, to answer just these kinds of questions.

According to Barry’s research, there were 18 swimmers who competed at all four Omaha meets. Most of the names are recognizable. Of the 18, 12 swimmers are Olympians.

Of those who are not, Grothe is an American Record breaker, Stewart is a former World Record holder, and Madison Kennedy is a three-time short course World Record holder.

The less recognizable names include Brandon Fischer, who has become a fixture on the US National Team in his 30s while splitting training with his work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California; and Austin Surhoff, is a three-time NCAA Champion who semi-finaled at the 2008 Trials and is currently training while coaching at Johns Hopkins.

Maybe the least-known of this group, especially among younger swim fans, is Michael Arnold. He was a good swimmer at Georgia from 2008-2012, qualifying for the NCAA Championships three times. As a senior, he finished 10th in the 100 fly and 15th in the 50 free at NCAAs. In 2012, he finished 17th in the 50 free in 22.70 – his best finish at four Olympic Trials. In 2021, he swam at the Wave 1 meet, finishing 43rd in 23.24.

The Omaha 18

Amanda Weir is especially notable, as she has competed at six straight Olympic Trials meets, having raced in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2021.

This was surprisingly-long initially: to swim at all four meets, athletes of the right age would have had to have been good enough at a young age to qualify, and then 13 years later still good enough to stretch their careers into their late 20s or early 30s and still be competing. Upon further consideration, though, it became maybe less surprising: swimmers who are good enough in their late 20s to still be competing were often already very good in their teens.

There were 61 swimmers who competed at the 2012, 2016, and 2021 Olympic Trials:

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