London 2012: Predictions for Team USA Swimming at Olympics

Andres BoteroCorrespondent IJune 6, 2012

London 2012: Predictions for Team USA Swimming at Olympics

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    The London Olympics will be Michael Phelps' last and final stop on a memorable journey that began twelve years ago.

     

    CNN revealed in an interview by Anderson Cooper during 60 Minutes that Phelps, after the end of the Summer Olympics, would be retiring.

     

    But with that just a few months away, Phelps has made a strong push in training to leave the sport on a high note.

     

    Phelps will not be the only athlete making a splash in London. Ryan Lochte, Brendan Hansen, Jimmy Feigen, Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones will also be vying for Olympic titles in London.

     

    On the women's side, Natalie Coughlin is the two-time champion in the 100-meter backstroke.

     

    Meanwhile, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, Jessica Hardy and Katie Hoff will look to add to their medal haul from four years ago as well.

Phelps Looks to End Career on a Good Note

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    Michael Phelps is a once-in-a-generation athlete, and the London Olympics will be the stamp on a body of work that has spanned his entire life.

     

    Having struggled with mental burnout following the Beijing games, Phelps has refocused himself on this summer and performing well.

     

    In an interview with Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, Phelps said that that he will not be competing in eight events. He has nothing else to prove to his fans, and this time around, he is trying to accomplish some smaller unspecified goals.

     

    In an Associated Press release on ESPN.com, Phelps said his defeats by Ryan Lochte this past year have motivated him to work harder in the pool.

     

    Phelps has not yet publicly stated which events he will compete in. Phelps will probably compete in the 200-meter free and the 200-meter IM. He will win the 200 free but lose the IM to Ryan Lochte.

Ryan Lochte Is on the Upswing

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    Ryan Lochte is a six-time Olympic medalist and reigning world champion in the 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter freestyle and the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys. 

    Alice Parker, in a piece about Ryan Lochte for Time magazine, documented his intense training regimen and how he beat Phelps several times since Beijing.

    He seems to be highly self-motivated and depending on how focused Phelps is, Lochte may be able to cause an upset or two given that he has beaten Phelps recently (in Shanghai and in Charlotte).

     

    Lochte is riding a wave of momentum into London and will be difficult to beat.

     

    He has the psychological advantage coming into London.

     

    Lochte is going to win the 200-meter back and the 200-meter IM, beating Phelps in the process.


    Lochte seems to be on too much of a roll to lose to Phelps especially given the fact that Phelps has lost some focus since Beijing. Lochte is going to

Brendan Hansen: Road of Redemption

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    In an interview with Mike Dodd of USA Today, Hansen revealed how he took the road less traveled to London.

     

    Hansen has been away from the sport since Beijing, but he has refocused himself on swimming and making the U.S. National team.

     

    Braden Keith from SwimSwam.com believes that Branden Hansen will bring some honor and glory to the U.S. as the premier American in the 100 breast.

     

    He's on to something. In 2007, he swam one of the fastest times in the world that year (59.8) as well as becoming world champion.

     

    With his renewed sense of competition, Hansen is a definite threat for the podium this summer, and don't be surprised if he adds a 100-meter breaststroke gold to his collection.

     

    He was the former record holder and this will be his final Olympics, a common theme on the men's side and this will serve as extra motivation.


    Hansen is bringing home the gold in the 100-meter breast.

Jimmy Feigen: NCAA Champion

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    Jimmy Feigen defeated Michael Phelps in the Texas Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite last week, building on his three national championships in the 50 free, 100 free and 4x100 free relay this year.

     

    Feigen had entered that day as the top seed in the 100 free and beat Phelps, 48.63 to 49.05.

     

    In an interview with texassports.com, Feigen sounded surprised by his victory:

     

    "It is a good confidence booster, because Phelps is one of the best in the world. Just to swim next to him is an honor, much less to pull out a win. It is a humbling, awesome experience.”

     

    Feigen is a good sprinter and he will probably double in the 50 free and the relay.

     

    Feigen is talented but the rounds of the 50 free and the 4x100-meter free relay just seem too taxing.

     

    He will make the final but finish out of the medals but he will be a great benefit for the U.S. in the free relay.

Nathan Adrian: American Anchor and Fastest Freestyler

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    Speaking to Jason Devaney of NBC Sports, Adrian discussed watching the finals in the nosebleeds of the Water Cube. After Beijing, Adrian became the go-to-guy for the relay and has anchored the US in every major championship since then.

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    In March, Adrian beat Michael Phelps in the Indianapolis Grand Prix in the 100-meter freestyle. 

     

    With his imposing size—he looks more like a linebacker than a swimmer—he can cut through the water and is one of better sprinters in the U.S and Yahoo Sports writer Sandra Johnson sees him as a threat for the Olympic gold.

     

    Adrian will be challenging the current Olympic champion Cesar Cielo from Brazil and the Australian James Magnussen.

     

    With his size and speed, he will be a medalist but it will depend on how tiring the rounds of the 100-meter free and the free relay will be.

     

    I see Adrian most likely winning with the Australian in second and the Brazilian in third.

Natalie Coughlin

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    Given her versatility, Coughlin will try to defend her title in the backstroke, as well as help the US in the 800-meter medley relay and the 400-meter freestyle relay.

     

    Coughlin seems too old to defend her title again but the increase physical maturity and four extra years of training almost make it seem as though she will win.

     

    Talking to Boonie Ford of ESPN.com, Coughlin said she will be racing in the 100-meter butterfly, 100 back, 100 free and perhaps the 200 individual medley.

     

    She will face tough competition on the American side from Dana Vollmer who just seems too good in the fly.

     

    American Caitlin Leverenz will be the woman to beat at the trials in the 200 IM and while at the Olympics,

     

    Coughlin will contend with Leverenz and Olympic champion Stephanie Rice of Australia.

     

    Leverenz has youth on her side and has performed well at the recent Santa Clara Grand Prix.

     

    Given her experience, the US team will look to her as the de facto leader and take rising star Missy Franklin under her wing.

     

    With Franklin and Coughlin on the team, expect the Americans to win the Olympic medley relay title, according to Mike Gustafson of USA Swimming.

Melissa "Missy" Franklin: The Female Phelps

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    At 16 years of age, 6'1" with size 13 feet, Missy Franklin has all the physical attributes of an Olympian. But she has a carefree approach instilled in her by her coach, according to Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal

     

    In the 2011 World Championships she was third in the 50-meter backstroke and  was first in the 800-meter freestyle medley relay, 200-meter backstroke and 400-meter freestyle relay.

     

    Franklin's best event is the 200 back according to Omaha.com and given the fact she is younger and slightly under-trained, she will have a better peak for the Olympics and win gold in that event.

     

    If she does decide to do the 400 free relay, she will definitely split a fast time and help win gold.

Dana Vollmer: Balanced Approach Should Lead to London Success

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    Dana Vollmer was 16 when she won a gold medal as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay in Athens.

     

    However in 2008, she failed to qualify in any of the individual events.

     

    Speaking to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram, Vollmer discussed how her passion waned for the sport, but time away from the sport helped her rediscover her love for swimming.

     

    Since then, she has won 27 medals in competition but still lacks an individual Olympic medal.

     

    In Omaha, Vollmer will try to qualify in the 100 fly, 100 free and 200 free. Also, Vollmer will most likely be on the freestyle and medley relays.

     

    Right now, Vollmer would seem to be the best choice for bringing home gold in the 100 fly, seeing as how she also is the current American record-holder and the world champion. Natalie Coughlin may pose a threat but Vollmer just seems too strong in the last half of the race.

Rebecca Soni: Top American in the Breaststroke

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    At Beijing, Rebecca Soni won silver and gold in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke respectively. Since then, she has been the premier breaststroke swimmer in the world, having won almost every major competition.

     

    Jason Devaney of NBC Sports says that Soni has won World championships in both events and won at the Pan Pacific games also.

     

    She is the favorite for the American Trials and the London Games.

     

    She still has the world records in both events.

    In the 100 breast, Soni will meet Leisel Jones, the reigning Olympic champion and this time around Soni may have what ti takes to beat her. Jones is in her fourth Summer Olympics and may have lost some power with her stroke due to her age plus the fact Soni has been on a tear since the last Olympics.

    In the longer event, Soni does not seem to have any challengers and will win gold for the U.S.

Jessica Hardy: Picking Up the Pieces

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    In 2008, Jessica Hardy qualified for the Olympics but tested positive for a banned substance. After serving her sentence, Hardy is ready to pick up where she left off.

     

    Speaking to Jason Devaney of NBC Olympics, Hardy said she was not motivated by revenge or any feeling like that.

     

    Hardy has been competing fiercely and believes her past has made her a better athlete and person.

     

    She is a verifiable threat against teammate and reigning Olympic champion Rebecca Soni in the 100-meter breaststroke.

     

    In Omaha at the Trials, Hardy will compete in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle, the 100-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter free and medley relays. 

     

    It would be a great story if Hardy won but Soni seems invincible at this point, plus she is the favorite in the 100 breast. Hardy will have to settle for silver.

     

    Hardy will probably swim the breast part of the medley in the prelims but Soni will take her place in the finals unless she is tired from her Olympic program.

     

    In 2010, she won four gold medals in the 50 free, 100 breast, 4x100 freestyle and 4x100 IM.


    Hardy has some tough competition in the 50 free so she will have to settle for silver in the 100 breast and be an alternate for the relays.

Katie Hoff: Older and Wiser

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    After having won five events in dominating fashion at the US Trials four years ago, Katie Hoff only won medals in three of them in Beijing.

     

    Speaking with Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports on MSN, Katie Hoff revealed that she is no longer ashamed to show off her performances in Beijing.

    This time around, Hoff will be stronger and more physically mature, so she will probably recover more quickly between rounds at the 200 and 400-meter IMs.

    Katie Hoff will upgrade her medal in the 400-meter IM to gold from the silver she won four years ago.