The United States swim team, and Micheal Phelps, accomplished amazing feats this past summer during the Beijing Olympics. With that said, I must ask: What does the future hold for USA swimming?
The United States men's 4X100 freestyle relay had millions worldwide on the edge of their seats. Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones, and Garrett Weber-Gale had already swam, and if the United States was to beat the heavily favored French, Jason Lezak would have to be the man.
I, along with millions of other Americans, jumped out of our seats and cheered as Lezak outtouched the Frenchman Bernard and the U.S. took gold. Not only defeating the trash-talking French, who uttered the remark, "We came here to crush the Americans," but keep Michael Phelps' hopes for eight gold medals alive.
As we well know, Phelps went on to win his gold medals, and the U.S. remained the strongest swim team throughout the week of swimming. Now, Phelps is the most recognizable man in the United States, with a higher recognition rating than Michael Jordan!
We all know that Phelps plans to cut the number of races down next Olympics, and it will also be his last.
So what is the future of USA swimming like?
It is a very bright one!
Phelps will obviously be the headline athlete next Olympics in London, as he was these past Olympics. However, we must look ahead at some of the bright stars in USA swimming. Will we ever see eight gold medals again? Most likely not. But US dominance next Olympics is not out of the question by any means.
1) Michael Phelps
This guy is livin' the high life. He has more endorsement deals than hairs on his head and could probably get just about any lady he wants right now. Phelps will not swim as much in London as he did this Olympics, but I wouldn't expect a drop off in performance.
While he will age over these next four years, he is still the fastest swimmer, and best racer/finisher in the world. That will not change. Expect maybe four or five golds out of him next time.
Probably in the 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 free and a couple relays.
2) Ryan Lochte
At age 24, Lochte is an impressive swimmer. In the next Olympics, he has a lot to look forward to. It will be exciting to watch him duke it out with Aaron Peirsol and Matt Grievers in the 100 and 200 back. It will also be worth watching Lochte's 200 IM, where he will probably take gold—and the 200 free.
3) Matt Grievers/Aaron Peisol
Matt came on the scene in '08 and is now a big stud! And when I say big, I mean BIG. He stands at 6'6" and saying he is muscular is an understatement. This guy will be one to watch in both backstrokes, and probably the free styles as well. Aaron is still the 100 back champ, and even tho he lost to Lochte in the 200, he will be back for more. The U.S. will continue its backstroke dominance.
4)Garrett Weber-Gale/Cullen Jones/Ben Wildman-Tobriner
These three guys are rocking the sprinter world right now. The three of them will continue challenge each other in the 50 and 100 free until London, where the rest of the world better watch out. They will make a beastly relay as well
5) Katie Hoff
Katie is the female version of Michael Phelps. She qualified for the Olympics in five individual races just like Phelps. The best part about Hoff is that she is 19! She will be in her prime at 22 (turning 23) in London and could take gold in events such as the 400 free, the 200 IM, 800 free, and a couple of relays. Watch out for Katie!
6) Natalie Coughlin
Natalie was on the medal stand more than any other US female at the games this year. She will be 29 next Olympics and getting on the older side. But hey, Dara Torres won a gold at 41, why can't Natalie do it at 29?! She will still be a presence next go-round.
7) Rebecca Soni/Margaret Hoelzer
Rebecca had a very impressive showing in the 200 breast by winning gold, and a silver in the 100. She will be back better than ever in 2012, expect a repeat in the 200 and a gold in the 100. Hoelzer is still a dominant backstroker, and will be in 2012. Better watch out for young Elizabeth Beisel though!
8) Kara Lynn Joyce/Elizabeth Beisel/Christine Magnusen
Kara Lynn is a great free styler, and will be back in 2012 on relays and in some individuals such as the 100 free. The woman's relays will be very strong with her on them, maybe as anchor on the 4X100 free.
Elizabeth Beisel swam as a 15 year old in the '08 Olympics! As a 19 year old in 2012, she will be in her prime and ready to rock. She will challenge for gold in both backstrokes and IMs. Magnusen is a very good butterflyer. She took silver in the 100 this year. Look for her to do damage in both flys next olympics.
OTHER SWIMMERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Gil Stovall, Larsen Jensen, Peter Vanderkaay, Nick Brunelli, Nathan Adrian, Nick Thoman, Eric Shanteau, Mark Gangloff, Scot Spann, Lara Jackson, Lacey Nymeyer, Kara Denby, Kate Ziegler, Kelsey Ditto, Kathleen Hersey, Elain Breeden, Chloe Sutton, Megan Jendrick and many more.
Nationals, the US Open, World Championships, Pan Am games, NCAAs, and all the other meets leading up to and including the Olympics should be great. There is a lot to be excited about.