U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials are taking place June 13-20 in Omaha, Neb., and the networks of NBC and NBCSN – and streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app – will have live coverage of all sessions of competition. Below is a preview of the biggest storylines of the week.

With the unmatched depth of swimming talent in the United States each Olympic cycle, the U.S. Swimming Trials are a notoriously high-pressure meet even for some of the world’s best swimmers. “The Trials in some way are even more stressful than the Olympics,” Natalie Coughlin, one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers in history, said in 2012.

This year’s Trials promises to be one of the most unique and fascinating editions ever, pitting generations against each other like never before following a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Former Olympic champions have been forced to postpone retirement an extra 12 months while several precocious teenagers, previously destined for Paris 2024, now have sights set firmly on Tokyo.

Nobody is spared the danger of potentially missing out on this summer’s Olympics, not even superstars in the primes of their careers. Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel and Simone Manuel must all be at their best, or very close to it, to keep their plans for Tokyo on schedule.

Though some things will look different this year, the venue, the format and the stakes are all familiar. Trials will take place at the CHI Health Center in Omaha for the fourth straight cycle. Only the top two finishers in each event will earn a spot on the Olympic Team, with a handful of relay positions to be awarded as well.

Below are just a few of the biggest events and storylines to follow throughout the eight days of competition.

Men’s 200m IM – Can Ryan Lochte complete his redemption story?

Arguably nobody has more riding on a single event at Trials than Ryan Lochte does in the 200 IM. The 36-year-old, six-time Olympic gold medalist has been on a mission to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games, hoping it will offer a form of redemption from the scandalous gas station incident that marred his presence at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Since Rio, Lochte has become a husband and a father of two. His new life was chronicled in the documentary, “In Deep with Ryan Locthe,” streaming on Peacock.

Lochte still holds the world record in the 200m IM, set a decade ago, but enters the event at Trials with the just the fifth-highest seed time. Among those he must beat to finish in Olympic position are 19-year-old phenom Carson Foster, the ever-innovative and versatile Michael Andrew and 2017 world champion in the event, Chase Kalisz.

Women’s 100m Backstroke – Team USA’s deepest event overflows with talent

There is no greater example of the daunting nature of U.S. Swimming Trials than this year’s women’s 100 back, which features five of the world’s 10 best since the start of 2019. The list of contenders must start with the 19-year-old world record holder, Regan Smith. Smith broke the record leading off the women’s 4x100m medley relay at the 2019 World Championships, even though she did not compete in the individual 100m back at the event.

The women who did, Rio 2016 Olympians Olivia Smoliga and Kathleen Baker (whose WR Smith broke), are both serious contenders to make the team for Tokyo. Baker, though, is in a race to return from a leg injury she sustained in “a freak walking accident” in May.

A pair of uber-talented teenagers are in the hunt as well. Eighteen-year-old Phoebe Bacon, a Pan American Games champion in the event, can draw on the confidence of having beat Smith in U.S. Open competition. Meanwhile, Claire Curzan, just 16, is a wild card in what is not even considered her strongest stroke (she is a contender in the butterfly events as well).

Finally, 21-year-old Bama swimmer Rhyan White is not to be written off after she chopped more than two seconds off her personal best time in last month’s Atlanta Classic to join those mentioned above with a seed time under 59 seconds.

Men’s 100m Freestyle – Can Nathan Adrian turn back the clock?

One of the greatest freestyle sprinters ever, five-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian is chasing a fourth Games appearance this summer. But this iteration of U.S. Trials will be the most challenging yet, and that’s not only due to his age. Adrian, 32, is continuing to retrain his body following two 2019 surgeries to treat a testicular cancer diagnosis.

Adrian enters with the seventh-best seed time. While a top-two individual spot may be out of reach, especially with Dressel, the two-time defending world champion, in the field, a strong showing from Adrian could earn him a spot on the U.S. 4x100m relay team. He has anchored that very team to Olympic gold in the past.

Dressel, meanwhile, will be looking to build momentum in this event prior to the Tokyo Games this summer. Rio Olympian Ryan Held and former world junior champion Maxime Rooney are also contenders for an individual Olympic spot in the 100 free.  

Women’s 200m Freestyle – Superstars collide in the middle-distance free

Prelims and semifinals: Tuesday, June 15

Final: Wednesday, June 16

Neither Manuel nor *Ledecky are at their most comfortable in the 200m free but both Stanford teammates have sights set on adding this event to their Tokyo to-do lists. A major threat to those plans is 31-year-old Allison Schmitt, the American record holder and 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the event. Whichever two athletes wind up earning the individual Olympic spots, Manuel, Ledecky and Schmitt are all expected to team up on the U.S. women’s 200m free relay team in Tokyo.

*Though the 200m free is considered Ledecky’s weakest distance (that she swims in international competition), she is also the defending Olympic Champion in the event, which should tell you all you need to know about her ability as a swimmer.


6/13 Prelims: M 400m IM, W 100m fly, M 400m free, W 400m IM, M 100m breast 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    5:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: M 400m IM, M 400m free, W 400m IM 8pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/14 Prelims: W 100m back, M 200m free, W 100m breast, M 100m back, W 400m free 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: W 100m fly, M 100m breast, W 400m free 8pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/15 Prelims: W 200m free, M 200m fly, W 200m IM, W 1500m free 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: M 200m free, W 100m back, M 100m back, W 100m breast 8pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/16 Prelims: M 100m free, W 200m fly, M 200m breast, M 800m free 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: W 200m free, M 200m fly, W 200m IM, W 1500m free 8pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/17 Prelims: W 100m free, M 200m back, W 200m breast, M 200m IM 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: M 800m free, M 200m breast, W 200m fly, M 100m free 8pm, NBCSN [STREAM]
    10pm*, NBC [STREAM]
6/18 Prelims: W 800m free, M 100m fly, W 200m back 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: W 200m breast, M 200m back, M 200m IM, W 100m free 9pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/19 Prelims: M 50m free, W 50m free, M 1500m free 11am, NBCOlympics.com [STREAM]
    6:30pm*, NBCSN [STREAM]
  Finals: M 100m fly, W 200m back, W 800m free 9pm, NBC [STREAM]
6/20 Finals: M 50m free, W 50m free, M 1500m free 8:15pm, NBC [STREAM]

*Delayed broadcast