On the front page of USA Swimming's website is a ticking clock: a live countdown to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to be held June 13-20, 2021. That competition will get Team USA ready for the subsequent 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the Games that were, of course, delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic that swept the world, and which is still greatly changing life in the United States.
But even though the 2020 Olympics are right around the corner — knock on wood — with swimming certainly set to be one of the most exciting arenas during the Games, the swimming community in particular might be looking down the road a step or two toward the 2028 Olympics to be held in Los Angeles. Here's why.
Third time's the charm
LA has hosted the Olympics twice before, both in extraordinarily unique circumstances.
The first occasion, in 1932, occurred in the midst of a global (not to mention national) depression which stunted participation and interest. Only 37 countries competed in the Games, compared to 46 the previous cycle in 1928. Some of the highlights included the first-ever Olympic Village and the construction of the LA84/John C. Argue Swim Stadium, which hosted the swimming events and which still serves the community to this day.
The second occasion, in 1984, hosted 140 countries but was conspicuously missing the Soviet Union and many Eastern Bloc countries, which collectively boycotted the Olympics during the Cold War atmosphere and also in response to the United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Perhaps the most notable athletic achievement came from American Carl Lewis, who won four gold medals to tie Jesse Owens' record from 1936, when the Games were held in Berlin during the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.
When the Games return to LA, then, the city has a chance to write a new history for its own past and for the world. Swimming will be at the very heart of this opportunity.
A city steeped in swimming history
Fanatical swimming followers are probably already aware of LA's rich swimming history, but the facts are worth repeating all the same. Below is a list of former and current U.S. Olympic swimmers with ties to the LA area.
- Shirley Babashoff (1976 Olympic gold medalist, Whittier native)
- Amanda Beard (1996, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Irvine native)
- Tiffany Cohen (1984 Olympic gold medalist, born in Culver City)
- Janet Evans (1988, 1992 Olympic gold medalist, Laguna Beach resident)
- Jason Lezak (2004, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Irvine native)
- Lenny Krayzelburg (2000, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, USC alum)
- John Naber (1976 Olympic gold medalist, USC alum, Pasadena resident)
- Aaron Peirsol (2004, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Irvine native)
- Kaitlin Sandeno (2004 Olympic gold medalist, USC alum, Lake Forest native)
- Rebecca Soni (2008, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, USC alum)
- Dara Torres (1984, 1992, 2000 Olympic gold medalist, Los Angeles native)
- Haley Anderson (2012 Olympic silver medalist, 2016 Olympian, USC alum)
- Conor Dwyer (2012, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, trains at Trojan Swim Club)
- Anthony Ervin (2000, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Valencia native)
- Jessica Hardy (2012 Olympic gold medalist, Long Beach native)
- Jordan Wilimovsky (2016 Olympian, Malibu native)
- Abbey Weitzeil (2016 Olympic gold medalist, Saugus native)
Not too shabby.
'I am so proud to learn that Los Angeles was awarded the USOC selection for an Olympic host city bid. My first Olympics as a teen in 1984 came in my hometown of Los Angeles, and it will always be one of my greatest Olympic memories. Congratulations and I can’t wait to hopefully see the Games back here in the U.S.'
-Five-time Olympian and 12-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres
Of course, there is a long way to go before LA 2028. The 2020 Games in Tokyo will be a change for the world to move past the coronavirus, and in 2024 the Games head to the center of Europe when Paris plays host. Even so, the swimming community can look forward to less than a decade from now when the Games arrive in one of the world's best aquatic cities: Los Angeles.
Information and statistics provided by USA Swimming.