Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 7/24/12

Last weekend I was kind enough to preview the women’s swimming events as part of our build up to the London Olympics. This time around it’s time to look at three stories from the men’s side of the competition.

1- Michael Phelps vs Ryan Lochte

Everyone remembers the big story four years ago where Michael Phelps was a perfect eight for eight in his events, breaking Mark Spitz’s record for total gold medals in a single Olympic games. Perhaps what was even more impressive is that five of the gold medals were individual events and he managed to break the world record in seven of the races. Fast forward to now and Phelps is back competing for a mere seven medals in his third Olympics, but this time, Phelps has some competition to deal with in the shape of countrymen Ryan Lochte.

The duel between these two at the US Olympic trials last month enthralled many and reminded everyone why swimming is one of the more popular Olympic events. In London Lochte and Phelps will face off in the 200 and 400 IM which should be two of the biggest events of the entire meet. They were also due to compete in the 200 freestyle however Phelps opted to drop that race from his program to prevent burnout.

The tale of the tape for the two races is as follows, in the 200 IM, Phelps is the two-time defending Olympic champion and currently holds the head-to-head advantage over Lochte winning the most recent race last month by only .09 seconds. Lochte however is the current world record holder in the event and beat Phelps last year at the World Championships. In the 400 IM the stories are almost the exact opposite between the two swimmers. Starting with Lochte, he won the race in Nebraska by almost a second giving him a major confidence boost going into the Olympics. Working in Phelps’s favour however is the fact that his world record time in Beijing still stands and he has shown a steady improvement as it gets closer and closer to the Olympics. Either way you need to make sure that when these two guys are facing off in the pool, you need to be watching.

2- The fall of the Australian dynasty/James Magnussen

When Sydney hosted the Olympics back in 2000, Australian swimming was in the middle of a dynasty of sorts, especially in the freestyle events. Ian Thorpe was dominating in the short-mid distance events while Grant Hackett had surpassed Kieran Perkins as the dominant force in the 1500, a title he would not give up for a long time. Then of course there was than famous 4×100 metre freestyle relay where Ian Thorpe caught Gary Hall Jr on the final leg to win gold for the Aussies, that was a great moment (see the video below).


When to Watch:

Since Thorpe and Hackett retired, things have not been quite the same for the Aussies as their men’s swimming team has failed to reach the same heights as before. That being said there are some big medal hopes including the man known as The Missile, James Magnussen who is a favourite for the 100 freestyle and a genuine contender for the 50 freestyle. Magnussen shot into the spotlight at last year’s world championships winning the 100 event in 47.63 seconds, which was the fastest time ever swum by a person not wearing the now outlawed polyurethane suit. In London the Missile will be competing in the 50, 100 and 4×100 freestyle relay giving him the chance to win three medals.

3- The Local Hope Part 2

As I pointed out last week, swimming is not high up on the list of sports the host nation is any good at (including cricket, rugby and American football). While they have a decent hope in the women’s events, the men’s team… well… there’s always the relays right? Their best mens hope comes in the 100 backstroke in Liam Tancock who qualified in the 5th fastest time. Of course that time was still over a second slower than the fastest time so I think that says all you need to know about British swimming.

Day 1: 28/7

- 400 I.M.

- 400 Freestyle

Day 2: 29/7

- 100 Breaststroke

- 4×100 Freestyle Relay

Day 3: 30/7

- 200 Freestyle

- 100 Backstroke

Day 4: 31/7

- 200 Butterfly

- 4×200 Freestyle Relay

Day 5: 1/8

- 200 Breaststroke

- 100 Freestyle

Day 6 2/8

- 200 Backstroke

- 200 I.M.

Day 7: 3/8

- 100 Butterfly

- 50 Freestyle

Day 8: 4/8

- 1500 Freestyle

- 4×100 Medley Relay


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