The 4,400-seat IU Natatorium in Indianapolis had sold out long before the meets in 1996 and 2000, and the potential of the event needed to be studied hard by Executive Director Chuck Wielgus and USA Swimming.
“We kind of knew it was time,” said Mike Unger, the event director in 2000 and now USA Swimming assistant executive director. “Chuck always talks about standing on the 10-meter tower on the last night and looking down and seeing that we were kind of busting at the seams. And that’s sort of happened.”
What was off there in the distance, had officials been able to see it then, was a future that will hit its highest note in 2016 as the U.S. Olympic Trials exceed 200,000 in total attendance for the first time, and with all 15 sessions sold out at the CenturyLink Center.