The world will be tuning in to watch two of Swimming's greatest cultural icons—Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, who will test their mettle against the best in the world, and each other, in two individual events...The 200 and 400-meter Individual Medley.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps did the seemingly impossible, by winning eight gold medals and toppling swimmer Mark Spitz long-held record of seven-golds in one Olympic Games. He did what he had always dreamed of doing, raising the status of swimming in the US to unprecedented heights.
Ryan Lochte, being buoyed up by his ever-growing "LochteNation" fan base, will try to add at least five more gold medal wins to the three golds in his war-chest and potentially dethrone Prince Phelps in two events as he did in the US Olympic Trials last month and at the FINA World Championships in 2011.
Added to the Gator and the Wolverine's push for greater Olympic glory will of course be USA's female breaststroke wonder, Rebecca Soni who burst onto the Olympic scene in Beijing 2008, seemingly out of nowhere and went on to secure Gold in the 200-Meter breaststroke, stunning the world by beating "Lethal" Leisel Jones, Australia's Queen of Breaststroke. She has remained dominant in both the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke since 08 and shows no signs of slowing.
First time Olympian Missy Franklin, already holding an American record in the backstroke at age 17, has been touted as USA's greatest hope of bringing home multiple Golds along with Lochte and Phelps.
And while the known swimming studs help ignite the Olympic Opening Ceremony fireworks, one aspect that makes the Olympic games so exciting are those under-the-radar athletes who go from living in the shadows to taking center stage.
Here are my top five picks for the lesser-known but deadly fast US Olympic swimmers that could climb to the top of the podium and emerge from London as stars.