By SEAN CLAIR
So obviously the two big names that everyone knows, and are going to watch, will be Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Who else should you keep an eye on though? Read below and you will know who to have your eyes on for sure.
James Magnussen (Australia): Other than Lochte and Phelps, no men’s swimmer may be getting more attention than James Magnussen of Australia. A rising star, Magnussen may just be the best freestyle sprinter in swimming. He is the favorite in the 100 meter freestyle, and could easily medal in the 50 meter. He also will play a major role in the relay events for Australia.
Cullen Jones (USA): Jones is a veteran of U.S. swimming, and has always been a very good short distance freestyler. However, I don’t think many expected him to win the 50 meter and finish second in the 100 meter at the U.S. trials. Now, Jones has a chance to show that he can win individual medals, as he has a gold medal from Beijing in the 4×100 meter freestyle, much in large part to Jason Lezak.
Sun Yang (China): A rising star in the pool, Sun Yang of China may have the best chance of any swimmer, outside of Phelps and Lochte, to bring home two gold medals. He is a favorite in both the 400 and 1,500 meter freestyle events. Yang is the defending world champion in both events, and at only 20 years old is a star who could stay on center stage for a while.
Kosuke Kitajima (Japan): No one has dominated their events, other than Phelps, over the past decade as well as Kosuke Kitajima of Japan. He is the reigning gold medalist in both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke not just from Beijing in 2008, but also winning both in 2004 in Athens. Kitajima has a great rivalry with U.S. swimmers, Brendan Hansen in particular, and will once again be very difficult to stop in both his signature events.
Anthony Ervin (USA): Ervin is a great comeback story in these 2012 games. He won a dual gold medal with Gary Hall Jr. at the 2000 Sydney games in the 50 meter freestyle, and also was apart of the 4×100 freestyle relay team that won a silver medal. However, Ervin’s life went into somewhat of a spiral thereafter, and he didn’t swim competitively. He is now back and could be a force in the 50 meter freestyle again.
Rebecca Adlington (Great Britain): Great Britain’s best swimmer, and best hope in the water, is definitely Rebecca Adlington. She is the defending gold medalist in both the 400 and 800 meters, and is a top contender in both events again in 2012. She may not win both this time around, but she should be on the podium for both events.
Missy Franklin (USA): The budding U.S. 17 year old star, Missy Franklin, is by far the biggest named women’s swimmer at the games. After her five medal performance at the 2011 World Championships, Franklin was being pegged as the one to watch at the London games. Franklin will be swimming both the 100 and 200 meter freestyle and backstroke events and all three relays. She may not top her 2011 World Championship performance, but expect Franklin to wrack up some serious hardware for the U.S. medal count.
Rebecca Soni (USA): Soni came out and put herself on the map in 2008 when she showed up big time in Beijing. In the 100 meter breaststroke, which she got to swim due to a drop out and non-filing on time by the second and third place finishers in the U.S. Olympic trials, Soni finished second to world record holder Leslie Jones of Australia. Then in the 200 meter breaststroke she upset Jones, setting the world record in the race. Expect Soni to be on the podium again in both events.
Camille Muffat (France): Muffat is the best French women’s swimmer, and has a chance to medal in both the 200 and 400 meter freestyle events. She is the current world champion bronze medal holder in both events.