Lucas Oil Stadium sets record as US Olympic swimming trials open

Featured image credit: USA Swimming

Lucas Oil Stadium set a new world attendance record at the weekend as the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials – Swimming opened at the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, albeit with organisers scaling back their ticketing goals from initial projections.

Some 20,689 fans attended Saturday’s opening night of action, eclipsing the previous record of 16,000 attendees set at a finals session during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Fans in attendance were also treated to a world record performance in the water as the University of Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh set a new benchmark for the women’s 100m butterfly of 55.18 seconds, eclipsing a record held by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström that had stood since 2016.

First announced in March 2022, the Trials were expected to become the most attended swim meet and the largest Olympic selection event in history. And while the attendance record was set on the opening night, USA Swimming has downgraded its overall projections.

Speaking to last month, USA Swimming president and CEO, Tim Hinchey, said organisers were “currently on pace to hit our goals” of filling a stadium that has been adjusted to seat 30,000 in its swimming guise.

Speaking to the Indianapolis Star on Friday, Hinchey said the revised goal was to have 16,000 fans seated in the south half of the stadium on Saturday night. While this was comfortably exceeded in the end, crowds of 15,000 for each of the nine nights will reportedly satisfy organisers, with Hinchey stating this “would be the most we ever sold by a lot”.

In order to adapt an NFL stadium into a world-class aquatics venue, three temporary pools – two 50-metre and one 25-metre – have been installed over the field in Lucas Oil Stadium.

In order to achieve this, Lucas Oil Stadium has been split into two halves, with a tarp installed around the 50-yard line to separate the main competition pool and the warm-up facilities. The main 50-metre competition pool is on the south side of the stadium, featuring 10 lanes and stadium seating. The other two warm-up pools, at 25 and 50 metres, respectively, are on the other side of the tarp on the north side of the stadium.