Nick Thoman
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
IRVINE, California, July 25. THE psych sheet for the U.S. Open, to be held at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center starting Tuesday, will feature a handful of Olympians looking to make major statements to their rivals half a world away at the world championships.

Among the top names is Nick Thoman, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 100 backstroke. Thoman did not compete in the USA Swimming world championship trials but will be a strong favorite to take the backstroke events in Irvine. Thoman did not race in the United States after the Olympics, choosing to travel to Italy for racing experience post-London. Thoman has great memories of the U.S. Open, clocking what was then the second- and third-fastest times in history in the 100 backstroke at the 2008 meet, and becoming the fifth-fastest performer in the 200 back in 2009.

Thoman will have some tough competition in the backstroke events, especially in the 200 distance. Bolles School's Ryan Murphy is seeded first with his 1:56.37 from nationals last month, and also in the hunt will be NCAA champion Drew teDuits from Wisconsin Aquatics. Arkady Vyatchanin, who chose to sit out the world championships after revoking his sports citizenship with Russia earlier this year, will be a formidable foe in both backstrokes, given his pedigree as double bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics. Junya Koga, the 2009 world champion in the 100 backstroke, will also race for gold.

The men's 200 butterfly will showcase hot swimming prospect Justin Wright, who was the surprise of the Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara with a win in the event. He will be looking to make the world junior championship team in the event, and is in position to do so. Bobby Bollier, fourth at the world championship trials, will be the one to chase in the event. Also not to be missed is the men's 100 fly, which will feature Tim Phillips, Tyler McGill and Tom Shields. These three were third, fourth and fifth in the event at the USA world championship trials.

Olympians Amanda Weir and Lia Neal will highlight the American list of swimmers in the freestyle events. Neal was an Olympian in 2012 in the freestyle relay and could perform well in Irvine after a subpar nationals, while Sarah Denninghoff will try to extend her successful summer with more fast swims after placing third in the 100 backstroke at nationals and fourth in the 200.

An impressive list of international stars, many of whom train in the United States, are scheduled to show up in Irvine. Though Roland Schoeman's name is on the list of competitors in the 100 free, 100 fly and 50 free, he will be in Barcelona at the world championships. His fellow Olympic relay gold medalist Darian Townsend is scheduled to race in the meet before heading to the World Cup series, as is another South African, Sebastien Rousseau. Australia will bring one of its top young sprinters, Yolane Kukla, to Irvine. Kukla will be looking to earn redemption after a disappointing world trials, and could finish the meet with a few of the world's top times. Leiston Pickett is another swimmer who could post some world-ranked times in Irvine after missing out on the opportunity to race in Barcelona. Look for her to possibly go under 1:07 in the 100 breaststroke.

The U.S. Open is also scheduled to feature a few American swimmers who competed at the World University Games. Michael Weiss, the gold medalist in the 400 IM in Russia, is not entered in the longer IM event, but is racing in three freestyle events and the 200 IM. Breaststrokers Mike Alexandrov and Cody Miller are set to swim in Irvine, as well as individual medley and middle distance freestyle star Sarah Henry.

U.S. Open psych sheet

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