Can’t-Miss Men’s Races in London

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

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
(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

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

In This Story

Leave a Reply

9 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

1. Park

Dark horse: Ryan Cochrane.

He had an impressive showing last year and is one thats been on the cusp in a break out swim in this event. Although he wont challenge for gold he could challenge for bronze, if he is able to have a good first day. Cochrane is going in with something to prove. Being beaten in the 1500 last year, with the media saying is Sun’s race to lose in London, it seems like him and Randy have been putting alot more in the tank to give him an impressive showing.


no men’s 400 im? ryan vs phelps #1!!!

200 breast for me should be good….


I would also add 200 free

Sun Agnel Locthe Bieldermann Park all are potential medal owners.. a race than even scared away phelps is something that will be a titan battle..


200 FR wasnt because he was scared. It was bc the 4×100 is a much bigger threat and some have suggested he did it to allow Tarwater on the team.

Either way, you can only say the guy has grace, not fear.


He was unsure he could win gold on 200 free, and he was not the favorite.. even if it was not him it was bowman thinking that not medalling would “hurt” phelps career.

He is amazing swimmer, best of all time by far, but never was a really good loser (as seen the way he treated bieldermann)..


I think Phelps has less chance of winning the 400 IM than he did the 200 free. I would think he dropped the 200 free because he wanted to stick to the 4 other events that he has won at the last 2 olympics and would like to make 3 in a row in those events. 200 free was always an “add-on” event for Phelps, never a main focus like the flys and IM’s.


even on 400IM if he races bad at least a silver was given for him.. 200 free he had a chance of no medal at all..


I highly doubt that. He would get a medal in the 200 free for sure. Hands down. He definitely would have had a better chance at winning the 200 free than winning the 400 IM.


But 400 IM affords him the chance to become the first man to three-peat.

There’s a lot to lose for Phelps in swimming 200 free than gaining


Rafael, based on the form he has shown this year, its likely that he would swim AT LEAST a 144.4, and most likely closer to 144.0. Afterall, he did swim his 2nd fastest in season race. He most likely would’ve won at least a silver medal. Because of this, I think its likely that at least 85% of the reason why he dropped the race was the reason he gave.

I think if I was Phelps, I would’ve made the same decision.


who guarantee 1:44 flat would give silver? We never saw Sun going agressive enough on this race, and we don´t know how well Bieldermann Agnel and park could also go..

If any of the guys with chanches get´s locked out of podium it would not be a surprise.. and phelps was one of the guys who could get locked out..


I agree with you. If I were Phelps, I would also have made the same decision.

About Callum Ng

Callum Ng is a Canadian story-teller, entrepreneur and sport leader. Callum has traveled across the world as a participant and promoter of recent sport events such as the IOC's WCSE 2011 and the Youth Olympic Games. As a former swimmer, Callum brings a unique angle to swimming coverage, capturing both …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!