An stadium converted into an Olympic swimming pool on the road to Paris 2024

The Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be the qualifying trials venue for the Olympic Games in the United States. It will be a perfect replica of the La Défense Arena that will be used in Paris but with twice the capacity. The US trials will be held from 15 to 23 June.

The same company that built La Défense Arena, the venue for the swimming trials at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, has been in charge of fitting out the venue for the US Trials, where 700 swimmers will be looking to qualify for the Olympic Games. It will be a perfect replica, but with a much larger capacity than the Parisian pool

The trials start on 15 June and will last until 23 June and the intention of the American organisers is to create the same conditions as these in the Olympics. In the water will be some of the world's best swimmers such as Katie Ledecky and Kate Douglass. ‘It's the biggest place a pool has ever been set up,’ John Ireland, the installer's director of technical services, told local media.

An estimated 30,000 people are expected to gather on the first night to watch the events, which are being held for the first time in an American football stadium.

Indianapolis returns to what it was a century ago, the place where American swimmers punched their ticket to Paris. That time it was Paris 1924. Lucas Oil stadium is where the NFL's Indianapolis Colts play, the 2007 Super Bowl champions who opened the venue the following year.

Its history is enormous. Several Super Bowl finals have been held there, as well as musical performances by the best groups and soloists of the moment. Organisers have taken care of all the details so that the swimmers will be able to enjoy the same characteristics that they will find at the Games' venue. What will not be the same is the capacity.  

The Défense Arena has a capacity of more than 16,000, while the stadium converted into a swimming pool in Indianapolis will have a capacity of more than 30,000.  The Trials is one of the most popular events for swimming fans. Olympic passes are at stake and it is a chance to see swimmers at the top of their game. Estimates of attendance are huge, exceeding all expectations as they have never had such a large facility at their disposal before. 

Lucas Oil in Indianapolis on match day. 'X'@jjsayago
Lucas Oil in Indianapolis on match day. 'X'@jjsayago

The pool was built over the last three weeks; construction began on 12 May and will be completed this week. Nearly two million gallons of water were brought in from the nearby White River; it will then be stored in tanks that will allow it to be constantly circulated, cleaned and chlorinated before filtering in and out of the three pools that have been built, according to The Athletic. 

As with everything in the United States, there is a price to pay for the spectacle and there will be a price to pay to enjoy the grandiose scenery. The Spanish newspaper As reports that over the nine days of competition it is estimated that more than 250,000 people will pass through at a price of $475 (€436) for the cheapest voucher, a significant amount of money.  

The organisers of the Trials estimate that 250,000 people will pass through the stands over the nine days of competition, with vouchers ranging from 475 to $2,234 (€2.053) and the desire to make it the most attended swimming event, at least, in the United States. 

The fact that Eric Neuberger, the general manager of the Lucas Oil Stadium, had been a swimmer, had something to do with this effort to put together something groundbreaking, something new, something never seen before.

A recreation of what the Lucas Oil converted into a swimming pool will look like.. 'X'@NelsonCarterJr
A recreation of what the Lucas Oil converted into a swimming pool will look like.. 'X'@NelsonCarterJr

‘It's exciting to say you're going to swim in an NFL stadium. I think it opens up the possibility for a lot of people outside of swimming to watch the Olympic Trials,’ said Kate Douglass, one of the medal candidates at the Games. In addition to the central pool where they will fight for the Olympic passport, there will be two warm-up pools and outside, near the stadium, there will be a replica of the Olympic Tower.

A 20-metre replica of the Eiffel Tower.  Some swimmers will forget they are still at home and think it is time to feel what it is like to compete at the Olympic Games.

35 Olympic champions will give their names to some of the city streets near the stadium. Every last detail is being taken care of in the build-up to the big event with just over ten days to go. There will be a 50-foot-high video board behind the athletes as they are announced and walk onto the pool deck before each final. An NFL or Hollywood movie style presentation.

Never before would any swimmer have imagined that the warm-up pools would be a few metres away from the pool where they will compete. A tarpaulin will separate one from the other, something unthinkable until now.