2012 Summer Olympics: Europe's Top Hopes for Swimming Gold

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 17, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: Europe's Top Hopes for Swimming Gold

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    The U.S. might appear to have a stranglehold on the swimming world in terms of media with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin, but Europe can steal several golds from Team USA in London.

    One of the most exciting and popular sports in the Olympics, swimming will have a major impact on which country wins the Games.

    With 34 swimming events, Europe is going to be taking home quite a bit of hardware as a whole, but these are the best chances to do so.

Liam Tancock, Great Britain

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    Liam Tancock is a backstroke expert who is arguably the best in the world.

    After winning the gold medal at the 2011 FINA World Championships in the 50-meter backstroke, he's gone on to have an excellent 2012 season.

    He missed out on a medal in the 100m backstroke in the 2008 Olympics by just 0.21 seconds, but he looks to write a new ending to this story in London.

    After setting the world record in the 50m backstroke in 2009, he has remained dominant, and looks to finally win an Olympic gold. While he can't do it in the 50m (not in the Games), he will try to do so in the 100m.

Camille Lacourt, France

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    Another backstroke expert, Camille Lacourt is famous for tying fellow countryman Jérémy Stravius at the 2011 Fina World Championships in the 100m backstroke. Both men were awarded a gold medal.

    However, now that Stravius is not going to be in London, Lacourt has an open path to taking home the gold in this event.

    There are few swimmers who can even challenge this guy in the backstroke, and he should take gold during the Games.

Yannick Agnel, France

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    Yannick Agnel is our second Frechman on this list, and he specializes in the freestyle.

    Agnel holds the national record in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle, and won a silver medal with the 4x100m free relay at the 2011 FINA World Championships.

    Agnel is an elite swimmer, and he should take home a gold in at least one event this year.

Milorad Cavic, Serbia

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    Milorad Cavic is Michael Phelps' rival in the butterfly, and he may be the only man who can challenge him and steal gold from him in the world (losing by one-hundredth of a second in the 100m in Beijing).

    Cavic and Phelps have been going back and forth for years, but it looks like Cavic could finally top him on the international stage.

    After a year of poor training habits, Phelps looks slower than he did four years ago, which could leave an opening that Cavic can swoop into and take home a gold.

Federica Pellegrini, Italy

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    Federica Pellegrini won her first Olympic medal in Athens, taking home the silver medal as a 16-year-old. Now that she will be turning 24 during the London Games, she looks to win a gold.

    Pellegrini is a freestyle specialist who has been incredibly successful. At last year's World Championships she won the gold in both the 200- and 400-meter freestyle races.

    Pellegrini has found great success during her lengthy swimming career, and she looks to add on a second gold, and perhaps another world record as well.

Rebecca Adlington, Great Britain

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    Another freestyle swimmer, Rebecca Adlington looks to take home a gold for the host country.

    After breaking Janet Evans' world record that had stood for 19 years at the Beijing Games, Adlington now looks to add a few more gold medals in London.

    Adlington is coming off a good World Championships meet, during which she won a gold in the 800m, but lost to her rival Federica Pellegrini of the previous slide in the 400m.

    Adlington and Pellegrini will battle it out in the pools of London, and the two are sure to put on a show. Luckily for Europe, it's almost a guarantee that one will win gold.