200- and 400-meter Individual Medleys
The battle between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte for the title of world's best swimmer comes to a head in these two races, their only scheduled showdowns in London.
Fittingly, those showdowns come in the individual medley, a race that tests a swimmer's versatility and overall aptitude. Phelps is the defending Olympic champion in both and the world-record holder at 400 meters while Lochte is the defending world champion in both and holds the 200-meter world record.
At the U.S. Olympic Trials, they managed a counter-intuitive split, with Phelps winning the 200 and Lochte the 400.
Can't follow all that? Ok. We'll make it simple. Lochte and Phelps are going to have two really close, really hyped races against each other in London.
4 x 100-meter Freestyle Relay
This event is known for producing tight finishes and tons of pre-race trash talk. Four years ago it was the French thumping their chests only to have their dreams dashed by Jason Lezak and a dramatic Team USA comeback. In 2000, the Americans talked a big game before losing to the hometown Aussies.
This time around the Aussies and French are co-favorites, with the Americans are still licking their wounds from a bronze-medal finish at 2011 Worlds.
The good news for Uncle Sam is that Ryan Lochte didn't swim the event at Worlds and neither did Cullen Jones, the 100-free runner-up at Trials. Add those two to a team featuring 100-meter trials champ Nathan Adrian and a re-charged Michael Phelps, and the United States should be right in the thick of things come London.
Michael Phelps swam two of his most memorable Olympic races in this event, winning both by less than one tenth of a second.
In 2004, he beat fellow American Ian Crocker by a 0.05 seconds. Four years later he nipped Serbian-American swimmer Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds to keep his drive for eight gold medals alive.
Now Phelps is back for an unprecedented three-peat, and Cavic remains one of his toughest competitors.