The Olympics are all about epic swimming showdowns. Besides the Lochte vs. Phelps matchups, here are a few you just can’t miss.
Day 1 – Men’s 400 Freestyle
PARK TAE HWAN vs. SUN YANG
In Beijing, the 400 Free was a beautiful rise to power for Korea’s Park Tae Hwan. In London, the defending Olympic Champion will have to battle a surging Sun Yang of China, who has posted a healthy 3:42.31 this season to be world best. Both swimmers have ability on either side of the 400m distance, each swimming a 1:46 200m, and sub-14:50 1500m. The distance edge would have to be given to Sun Yang but that may not matter. The 400m Freestyle is increasingly an exercise in sprint endurance, measuring the energy systems more similar to the 200m than the 800m or 1500m. This will be a classic.
Dark Horse Medal Threat: Paul Biedermann, GER
Day 3 – Men’s 100 Backstroke
GREVERS vs. LACOURT
(For a more detailed breakdown see, Picks: Grevers v. Lacourt)
Matt Grevers made a serious statement at US Trials by swimming a 2012 world best 52.08. Before Omaha, Frenchman Camille Lacourt held that title with his 52.75 from March. Despite this sizable difference in season bests, this will be an awesome race. It will be Grever’s Olympic experience, (silver in ’08), against Lacourt’s reign as 2011 co-world champion. Both men are big and powerful, (Lacourt is 6’6” to Grever’s 6’8”). They are also pure sprinters who swim the 100 Backstroke as intended: out hard and fast. The winner will be whoever can close it out with a 2nd 50 split the farthest under 27.
Dark Horse Medal Threat: Nick Thoman, USA
Day 6 – Men’s 200 Backstroke
LOCHTE vs. IRIE
Ryan Lochte has been swimming the 200 Backstroke at an elite level since he was Gator at the University Florida. He also has Championship pedigree, taking the World title in 2011. In Shanghai, Lochte bested Ryosuke Irie by well over a second. However, Ryosuke’s eerily smooth stroke has gained some power in 2012, and he managed another sub-53 100 at Japanese Nationals in April. For a 200 swimmer, adding speed to grace is a dangerous combination. Look for this to be a tight race, not to mention it’s the first of Lochte’s famous 200 Backstroke / 200 IM double.
Dark Horse Medal Threat: Tyler Clary, USA
Don’t forget to enter our Great SwimSwam Pick Em’ Contest!
What Olympic swimming races are you excited for? Let me know @CallumNg