Top 10 American swimmers to watch at 2012 Olympic trials
I got a chance to meet with Janet earlier this year (Watch In Focus) and she’s just got an amazing story. Can the 40-year-old make an Olympics comeback in the grueling 800 freestyle 16 years after her last appearance? And if she doesn’t make it, does that then ruin her legacy? I don't think anything could ruin the legacy of the greatest distance swimmer the world has ever seen. So we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.
American swimmers are ready to dive in at the U.S. swim trials this week in hopes of nabbing a spot for London 2012. So whom should you be looking out for? Six-time gold medalist Amy Van Dyken shares her 10 to watch.
Michael Phelps has to be first. For him, it will be something like, yeah, he entered seven events at trials. I think he’s probably going to swim only five or six, but still he’s being a little too quiet about what he’s really going to swim. He was very adamant that he never wanted to swim the 400-meter individual medley in the Olympics ever again. So for him to enter it is kind of interesting. He also has made no bones about the fact that he is not trying to go for the eight golds again. So for him to enter that many events is just weird. I think it is great gamesmanship. I think it’s him basically saying: “When you walk on this pool deck, I’m Michael Phelps. It’s my pool deck. I’m going to make a decision at the last minute and make everyone else wonder what I’m doing.” I think it’s brilliant. Learn more about Michael Phelps
He kind of played second fiddle to Michael Phelps in the last Olympics. Is this his year to shine? Is this his year to be this Olympics’ Phelps? I’m expecting him to gold medal in everything he swims. I think it would be definitely a huge shock if he doesn’t.
Going from a kid who nearly drowned to a guy who has gold medals is absolutely incredible. I think he’s one of the best sprinters that America has produced in a long time. A lot of people are looking for other storylines aside from Ryan and Michael, and I think that it’s Cullen’s opportunity to be able to step up and be that next storyline. And if he does it at trials, watch out. He’ll be the guy to look for – America’s got such a rich sprinting tradition going all the way back to Tom Jager, Matt Biondi – that he could be that next storyline and that next great American sprinter.
I love the fact that he beat Michael Phelps with a split up the middle of his suit at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in March. Another one of America’s top sprinters that can make a story for himself at these Games.
I think he has probably one of the greatest stories, and every time I hear his story, I totally get choked up. He learned he had cancer right before the Olympics and then went out and swam amazingly. Now finally being in remission and going for it again in the Olympics? It’s a huge story.
The Denver native has the potential to break the record that I set in ’96. She could be the first American woman to win five gold medals in one Olympics – as a 17-year-old. She’s extremely talented. She’s 6-1, which is very unique. She’s also just really a sweet person. So I wish her all the best for sure. If she can just kind of ignore everything that’s going on around her at the event, she’s going to be just fine. One thing that happens to a lot of people, and a lot of Americans don’t realize this, is that the Olympic trials are a tougher competition than the Olympics. Add in that this is Franklin’s first trials, and it’s kind of nerve-racking.
After a positive drug test in 2008, she has the potential to be one of the great stories of these Games if she can come back, make the team and go on to medal. I think she’s an inspiration to people, not just swimmers, but also people dealing with things in their lives and trying to overcome them and come out on the other side a better person.
She’s the old veteran, so can she do it again? I think her expectations are a little bit less than they have been in past Olympics, so is that going to help her? Only time will tell. I think she’s going to stick to her regular program. Again, this is going to be a Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte situation with her and Missy Franklin. They both swim backstrokes, they both swim IMs, so it’s going to be really interesting to watch those two duke it out to see who’s going to be first and who’s going to be second. And who knows? Maybe someone that we haven’t even heard of yet will come out the woodwork and beat both of them. Learn more about Natalie Coughlin
Coming back from having a child, which is tough in and of itself, to try to make the Olympic team after the things that we now know about her from her book, all the struggles that she’s gone through, I just think it’s great, and I really hope that she makes it. I still remember that little 14-year-old on my relay team telling me that she’s never in her life done a relay start and “You have to teach me how to do it,” as we’re marching out for the race. I have a fondness in my heart for her, and I just really hope that she does amazing at trials.