Olympic Swimming 2012: Top Americans to Watch in Day 5's Medal Races

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Olympic Swimming 2012: Top Americans to Watch in Day 5's Medal Races
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While the Day 5 swimming action in London may not feature the likes of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte or Missy Franklin in any finals races, there still figures to be plenty of opportunities for Americans to medal. In fact, there will be four medal races on Wednesday, three of which are individual.

Team USA is always a dominant force when it comes to swimming, and things haven't been any different in London. While there have certainly been a few disappointments along the way, the United States is still the preeminent nation in the world when it comes to swimming.

The United States' depth will be on full display on Wednesday as some of its mid-level swimmers have an excellent chance to medal. Here are the top three Americans worth watching on Day 5 as they attempt to make their Olympic dreams a reality.

 

Nathan Adrian (Men's 100-Meter Freestyle)

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Nathan Adrian opened things up for Team USA in the 4x100-meter freestyle event, and while France ultimately came out on top when Ryan Lochte was tracked down in the latter stages, Adrian set a great pace and figures to be a factor in the individual event.

The 100-meter freestyle is one of the fastest events on the Olympic program, and Adrian may be the best sprinter in the field. Adrian was tops in the heats with a time of 48.19 seconds, but there were several swimmers within a few tenths of his time, so he won't be able to run roughshod over the field.

It's safe to say that Adrian is probably the favorite, however, and it is a very strong possibility that he will give the United States its first gold medal in the event since Matt Biondi way back in 1988 during the Seoul Olympics.

 

Kathleen Hersey (Women's 200-Meter Butterfly)

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The women's 200-meter butterfly is an event that is typically dominated by Australia, but the United States will have the unquestioned favorite as Kathleen Hersey will attempt to win the first medal in the event for Team USA since Misty Hyman took gold in the 2000 Sydney Games.

Hersey was untouchable in heats as she was the only woman to finish in less than 2 minutes, 7 seconds. As always, that doesn't mean that Hersey is going to be able to breeze to a gold medal, but it would be considered a surprise if she didn't top the podium. Performance-wise she has been head and shoulders above the field thus far, but she has some swimmers with winning experience to deal with.

In Beijing, Chinese swimmer Jiao Liuyang won the silver in this event, and she will serve as one of Hersey's biggest competitors. It would take a really poor effort from Hersey to fall out of the medals, but as long as she swims up to her potential, she has a fantastic shot at gold.

 

Clark Burckle (Men's 200-Meter Breaststroke)

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The United States hasn't been historically dominant in the men's 200-meter breaststroke and most probably aren't expecting it to medal in London, but Clark Burckle certainly has an outside shot to reach the podium. He was solid in qualifying, and while he isn't likely a gold medal contender, he shouldn't be counted out.

It would be fair to say that the 200-meter breaststroke is one of the most competitive events in these Games as the majority of the field is medal-worthy. This has long been Hungary's signature event, so it is only fitting that Daniel Gyurta is the heavy favorite. He took silver in the event back in 2004 in Athens and was fastest during qualifying.

Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, who is the two-time defending gold medalist in the 200-meter breaststroke, will be in the hunt as well. It would be a fairly big surprise if Burckle were able to unseat either Gyurta or Kitajima, but a bronze medal would be a fantastic result for him and the United States.

 

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