Lessons in Swimming: The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials

Swimmers from across the USA are competing for a place on the U.S. Olympic Team including many of the world’s fastest qualifiers at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials June 25th through July 2nd.

Every four years, the youth of the world are called upon to assemble for friendly competition in the Olympic Games. The best amateur athletes for individual and team sports are attempting to represent their countries later this summer in London, England. If you can not wait, then experience that spirit and excitement next week by watching the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

Qualifiers from across the country are gathering in Omaha, Nebraska to compete for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swim Team which features many of the world’s fastest swimmers. The following insights provide a warm-up to this thrilling meet, which might make you feel like you’re cheering on the pool deck.

  • Only thirty-four women and thirty-four men will make the U.S. 2012 Olympic Swim Team from more than fifteen hundred qualifiers. Each squad will have the two fastest competitors from thirteen individual events plus eight relay swimmers.
  • Swim clubs from these local areas have sent qualifiers: Evanston, Glenview, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Wilmette, and Winnetka.
  • The indoor pool is Olympic size, fifty meters long with ten lanes, but only eight will be used. It contains over one million gallons of water, heated to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. It is a temporary pool and will be relocated later for permanent use.
  • Full body polyurethane swimsuits were banned in 2010 due to enhanced athletic performances. They produced artificial buoyancy, compression, and reduced friction. Expect possible slower times and fewer records, but fair results.
  • Swimmers must start races by holding motionless until the horn. In relay events, a swimmer must touch the wall before the next teammate’s toes leave the platform.
  • Breathing is minimized, except in backstroke, and breaststroke which requires a breath every stroke. Heads are kept in the water to eliminate resistance, not looking ahead or at competitors. Lines on the pool bottom alert swimmers for turns and finishes at the wall.
  • Look for effective stroke techniques which appear fast, but seem effortless rather than hard work. Efficient swimming means greater distance per stroke and less wasted physical energy, giving well trained swimmers the best chance to succeed.
  • Watch as the backstroke and freestyle strokes utilize “body rotation” on a “spinal axis” for straight movement through the water. The body slightly rolls side-to-side with the arm motions.
  • See how the breaststroke and butterfly strokes use “body undulation” for a flexible “dolphin” motion through water. The body fluctuates over and under the surface with the arm movements and kicks.
  • Often called the “fifth” stroke, under water is where swimmers gain an advantage. Body positions are tight with streamlined head, arms, and legs to reduce drag. Push-offs, kick-outs, and pull-outs add distance to starts and turns before surfacing.
  • Finish times are electronically computed from the starting horn until the under water “touch pad” is touched on the wall. Lap times or “splits” for individual and relay races are calculated.


Winning a race can be decided by one-thousandth of a second. It could determine the beginning of an accomplished swimming career or a disappointing end to many years of sacrifice and training.

No matter the final outcome, the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials are a wonderful way to enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with your family and friends as a patriotic build-up to July 4th. So, yell for your favorite swimmer, be a good sport, stand during our national anthem, and work on that “U-S-A” chant for next month. See you at the pool!

NBC and NBCSN television networks will broadcast live and taped coverage of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials nightly from June 25th through July 2nd.

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