Olympic Swimming Qualification, Explained: How the OQT Standards Work in USA Team Trials in 2024

The road to Paris begins in Indiana.

The stars will come out in Indianapolis as the U.S. begins the Olympic swimming trials at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. The nine-day event will mark the first time the swimming trials have been held in an NFL stadium, as the US prepares to capitalize on the event’s popularity.

The trials will serve as a preview of what is expected to be a hotly contested Summer Olympics in Paris, especially between the United States and Australia. The US was challenged by the Australians in 2021, with the Americans winning 11 golds to Australia’s nine. In total, the United States had 30 medals, compared to Australia’s 21.

Katie Ledecky can expect to be challenged again in the summer, not only by Ariarne Titmus, but also by Canadian swimmer Summer McIntosh, who has already boosted the international scene.

For now, these swimmers just have to focus on getting to Paris. That will certainly be a near certainty for some swimmers like Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel, but there are no guarantees for anyone heading to Indiana.

Here’s everything you need to know about the swimming qualifying team trials format.

US Olympic Team Trials Rules

There isn’t much complicated when it comes to participating in team trials. Swimmers who finish with the best or second best times in an event will make the team, as long as they also record an Olympic qualifying time. It is rare for the United States to have a top-two team trials finisher who does not also have an Olympic qualifying time.

The same process applies to relays, as swimmers are determined based on the times they swim during the trials.

There is a qualification process to reach the trials. To compete for a chance to represent the US at the Olympic Games, swimmers must meet the following criteria, according to the US Olympic Trials Event Information Handbook:

  • Be a US citizen eligible to represent the US in the 2024 Olympic Games
  • Be a currently registered premium member of USA Swimming in good standing
  • Have achieved a qualifying time standard between November 30, 2022 and June 4, 2024

Athletes can still submit their times through the late qualifying process if they have a qualifying time recorded after June 4, 2024 and before June 10, 2024. This time must be submitted by 11:59 PM ET on June 10, 2024. That process cannot be used to submit improved times and will incur additional fees.

If a swimmer has previously competed for another country, they must be approved by World Aquatics for a change of sport nationality and submit this before the entry deadline.

Times accepted are those from USA Swimming sanctioned competitions, USA Swimming sanctioned competitions submitted to SWIMS, and USA Swimming observed competitions that have undergone proper procedures to ensure times are recorded correctly.

2024 Olympic Qualifying Time Standards

Below is a table of the Olympic qualifying times and Olympic consideration time standards for the Paris 2024 Games.

Event Gentlemen OQT Men’s Oct Ladies OQT Ladies OKT
50 meter freestyle 21.96 22.07 24.7 24.82
100 meter freestyle 48.34 48.58 53.61 53.88
200 meter freestyle 1:46.26 1:46.79 1:57.26 1:57.85
400 meter freestyle 3:46.78 3:47.91 4:07.90 4:09.14
800 meter freestyle 7:51.65 7:54.01 8:26.71 8:29.24
1500 meter freestyle 15:00.99 15:05.49 16:09.09 16:13.94
100 meters backstroke 53.74 54.01 59.99 1:00.29
200 meters backstroke 1:57.50 1:58.09 2:10.39 2:11.04
100m breaststroke 59.49 59.79 1:06.79 1:07.12
200m breaststroke 2:09.68 2:10.33 2:23.91 2:24.63
100m butterfly 51.67 51.93 57.92 58.21
200m butterfly 1:55.78 1:56.36 2:08.43 2:09.07
200m IM 1:57.94 1:58.53 2:11.47 2:12.13
400m IM 4:12.50 4:13.76 4:38.53 4:39.92

How many swimmers will qualify for the 2024 Olympics?

There are a maximum of 26 men and women who can qualify for each NOC, per Olympic Games. Two athletes from each NOC may qualify per individual event, and one relay team per relay event.

NOCs can only enter a pair of athletes for an event if both have the Olympic qualifying time needed to reach the event. As long as athletes achieve the OQT, they are immediately qualified for the event, as long as there are not two athletes who have already achieved qualification.

If there are fewer than 852 athletes at the end of the qualifying period, athletes who have equaled or set a time better than the Olympic Consideration Time will be invited to participate in the events.

How old do you have to be to qualify for the Olympic Games?

Different countries have different age limits. The standard minimum age is 16 years. However, there are also those who are only 13 years old.

For the United States, the youngest an athlete can be is 13 to compete in the Olympics, the Olympics said.