Olympic Swimming 2012 Results: Unsung Heroes Push the US over the Top

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Olympic Swimming 2012 Results: Unsung Heroes Push the US over the Top
Al Bello/Getty Images
The United States' swimming dominance has been fueled by Schmitt (L) and Franklin (R)

Most swimming enthusiasts expected the United States to dominate the pool in London.

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte figured to be too much for the rest of the swimming world to overcome. The duo has not disappointed, Phelps has won two gold medals along with two silver, while Lochte has earned two gold, two silver and a bronze.

Phelps will have another opportunity at gold in the 100m Butterfly on Friday, but together, the duo's nine medals are as many as any other country combined. But what has pushed the United States over the top, or through the water, are the lesser publicized, unsung heroes of U.S. Swimming.

The American dominance in the pool has continued throughout the London Olympics to the tune of 23 total medals. Even without the medals earned by Phelps and Lochte, the United States' 14 other medals are still five more than China or Japan, whom are tied for second in total medals with nine.

In total, there are seven American swimmers not named Phelps or Lochte that have won multiple medals in the 2012 Olympics Games, led by two women, Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin.

Schmitt has had a taste of the spotlight, having trained alongside the most decorated Olympian in history in Phelps, but London has been her most successful appearance on the international stage.

Having already won four medals in London, Schmitt came into the the 2012 Games with some vital Olympic experience, having won a bronze medal as part of the women's 4 x 200m freestyle relay in 2008. But Franklin, just 17 years old, was only in junior high when she watched Schmitt, 22, swim in Beijing.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Missy Franklin has exceeded expectations.

Franklin's emergence as a world-class swimmer at this year's Summer Olympics was unforeseen by most.

Despite being named the 2011 FINA Swimmer of the Year, London would be Franklin's first appearance on the big stage of the Olympics, and while her future appeared to be promising, London figured to be a mere cover page on a long, storied career. However, fast forward to Friday, and not only has Franklin not crumbled under the bright lights, she has fed off the pressure, earning three medals and still has two events remaining.

Having already competed in five of her seven scheduled events, Franklin has caught the Olympics by storm prior to competing in her best event, the 200m backstroke.

On Friday, the 17-year-old phenom will compete in her signature event with a chance to be the first American woman to earn three gold medals in one Olympics since Jenny Thompson in 2000.

History is at stake for Franklin, but if her previous five events are any indication, she won't be fazed by the heightened attention. Instead, she'll focus on what she has to do, and that just may result in her breaking Kirsty Coventry's world record.

If Franklin, as the favorite, earns a medal in the 200m backstroke on Friday, she'll tie Schmitt's total of four medals in London.

The two American women have emerged from the broad shadows of their fellow male teammates, and they're now writing a story of their own. But while Phelps insists London will be the final chapter of his storied Olympic career, these two young and hungry ladies are just beginning to write theirs.

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