USA Swimming's Olympic trials are set to be held over two separate dates due to COVID-19 ©USA Swimming

USA Swimming, in partnership with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), has announced a revised schedule to split the 2020 US Olympic Team Trials into two competitions, with these acting as qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

These trials will be divided into two waves, respectively from June 4 to 7 and June 13 to 20.

The second wave will be the sole qualifier for swimmers to make the US Olympic team.

USA Swimming and USOPC made the decision in cooperation with the Omaha Sports Commission.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trials have been split to reduce numbers and the risk of spreading the virus.

A total of 1,305 athletes have qualified for the trials to date since the qualifying window opened on November 28 2018.

"Given the current environment, and the need to address concerns related to over-crowding in the athlete areas, warm-up pool and athlete seating areas, the decision was made to divide the event into two," said a USA Swimming statement.

Swimmers such as Katie Ledecky are expected to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics US Trials ©Getty Images
Swimmers such as Katie Ledecky are expected to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics US Trials ©Getty Images

USA Swimming chief executive Mike Unger added that the decision was taken based on the continuous spread of the virus.

"We undertook a thorough and methodical evaluation of the trials over the last several months and factored in several critical considerations in our decision," said Unger.

"Our number one priority was to find a way to host trials in the safest possible environment while also giving the athletes the best opportunity to succeed. 

"While selecting the Olympic team for Tokyo is a critical goal for the trials, it is important to note that the experience gained at trials by some of the lower seeded athletes has historically provided a great experience for future Olympic trials (and Games), which fuelled our desire to host two events."

To keep numbers down, USA Swimming has adjusted the trials time standard to the current 41st seeded time, with athletes who have met or bettered those times automatically advancing to the second wave, meaning there will be a final field of approximately 750 athletes.

This qualifying window is set to stay open until May 30, with athletes already with the standard not being required to requalify.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 2021.

To date, there have been more than 26 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, resulting in the deaths of over 436,000 people.