No matter what evidence the world championships or the Olympic trials may present, no athlete—no matter how much hype he or she has received—is a sure thing once the Games begin.
Look at what happened to Michael Phelps in the 400 IM. Look at what happened to gymnast Jordyn Wieber in the all-around qualifier. No matter how dominant some competitors are expected to be, they inevitably run into tough competition they didn't see coming.
Then again, some of those stars who stumbled early on during this summer's Games—whether it was in a medal race, a qualifier or a semifinal—are bound to make a comeback. Some of these athletes who have endured early adversity are just too good to continue to stumble, especially with their competitive juices flowing at an all-time high.
Here's a look at some of the swimmers who will rise above their rivals in their upcoming events. You can see a full list of the swimming results here.
The 17-year-old superstar billed to be the next Michael Phelps hasn't floundered under any pressure yet. In her only final thus far, she earned a medal—albeit a bronze—in the 4x100-meter freestyle, finishing in 3:34.24.
But where the competition will really set in is in the 100-meter backstroke. Though Franklin's time of 59.37 ranked as the best time in her heat, it wasn't the best time overall. That honor went to Australia's Emily Seebohm, whose time of 58.23 set an Olympic record, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As a result, it looks like Franklin will have some serious competition on her hands in the finals, which will take place on July 30 at 2:51 p.m. ET. But you can't necessarily judge a swimmer by her performance before the finals, when she'll really be giving everything she has in order to earn that gold medal. According to the Times, Franklin swam the 100m backstroke in 58.85 at the trials last month. Assuming Seebohm isn't going to set another Olympic record in the finals, she can expect some stiff competition from the American.
The legend's lackluster performance in the 400-meter IM was a shock to the entire world, especially after he barely survived that morning's qualifier. Meanwhile, his fiercest rival—fellow American Ryan Lochte—earned the gold medal and blew Phelps out of the water.
Phelps finished fourth at 4:09.29, while Lochte finished first at 4:05.18, beating his rival by more than four seconds. Despite his early struggles, though, Phelps is far from done. His performance in the 400 IM was an aberration. According to the Associated Press, Phelps decided after his record-setting performance in the event at the 2008 Games that he would no longer swim the 400 IM. Perhaps against his better judgment, he added it back into his repertoire earlier this year, according to the AP.
Just because Phelps didn't leave himself enough time to properly condition himself for one of the most grueling events at the Olympics doesn't mean he's finished. It doesn't mean he's going to endure the rest of these Games without earning a single medal. It just means this particular event was a bit too much for him.
Don't expect that to be the same story throughout the rest of the Games. And if Lochte is smart, he'll expect a much better performance when the two meet again in the 200-meter IM.
She may have been a gold-medal favorite entering the Games, but Beisel had to settle for the silver on Saturday in the 400-meter IM. She was upstaged by Chinese phenomenon Shiwen Yi, who set a world record after swimming the event in 4:28.43 and taking home the gold, according to the New York Post.
Still, the American grew leaps and bounds from where she was four years ago in Beijing, when she finished fourth in the event. And despite failing to live up to expectations as the favorite, she was still pretty satisfied with her performance. Beisel told the Post:
"It’s definitely a lot better than what I felt four years ago. Back then, I was sort of like a deer in headlights. This year I’m more mature and more experienced and it feels really great to win the medal."
Beisel will doubtlessly channel that experience into her next event, the 200-meter backstroke. Though she may not win the gold there—she'll have to go up against USA teammate Franklin to do so—don't expect her to flounder in the aftermath of her second-place finish in the 400 IM.
As she said, she's no longer a deer in the headlights. She knows what it takes to place, especially after experiencing it firsthand on Saturday.