US Olympic Trials 2012: What to Expect from Today's Critical Events

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US Olympic Trials 2012: What to Expect from Today's Critical Events
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With the 2012 US Olympic Trials underway, there are plenty of storylines to keep track of as the week drags on. One of the most prominent storylines has to do with the budding rivalry between Olympic darling Michael Phelps and fellow swimming rival Ryan Lochte.

Currently, the US Olympic swimming trials are being held in Omaha, Nebraska, carrying all the way from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.  While a win in Olympic trials doesn't necessarily guarantee a gold medal in the actual games, both swimmers hope to prove their worth in preparation for the upcoming games.

With a number of events being held today in both the women's and men's heats, as well as final matches scheduled for later in the day, there are a number of swimmers to keep an eye on.

Men's Swimmer to Watch: Ryan Lochte

Lochte is one of the most intriguing athletes to watch for these upcoming games. Often stuck in the shadow of world-famous record-breaker Michael Phelps, Lochte definitely would like to steal a gold medal from Michael Phelps once the London Olympics roll around. 

Already on Tuesday, Lochte defeated Phelps in the 200-meter freestyle. While Phelps also qualified for the 200 freestyle, but Lochte posted a time of 1:48.14. This is to be expected, as Lochte is the world champion dating back to Shanghai. 

Lochte also bested Phelps in the 400 individual medley during Monday's preliminary trials. With that type of momentum, nobody should be counting Lochte out at this point. It appears he has something to prove.

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With a few more heats left to run, as well as the finals, I expect Lochte to prove himself even further by defeating Michael Phelps in every upcoming match. 

Men's Swimmer to Beat: Michael Phelps

At this point, it should be obvious that most every swimmer in the world would love to dethrone the golden Michael Phelps.

The question for Phelps is this: Can he repeat 2008's dominance? Can he break even more world records? Or will he pass the torch to Lochte or someone else?

He hasn't impressed early on this Tuesday, already coming up third in the 200-meter relay, ending up behind both Ryan Lochte and Charlie Houchin (77th in the 200 m in 2008). That's not going to cut it in Beijing, when swimmers around the world will want to prove their mettle against Phelps. 

The world will be watching. I'm sure most would love to see Michael Phelps achieve even greater heights with insane achievements, but some will still be rooting for the underdog in Ryan Lochte or even Charlie Houchin. 

In the end, the underdog may triumph. And don't we all just love an underdog story? 

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