Column by John Lohn, Swimming World senior writer
BASKING RIDGE, New Jersey, August 29. DUE to the unrelenting pressure of the event, the United States Olympic Trials always feature a few surprises, including favorites failing to qualify for the Olympic Games. We'll see this scenario in less than a year in Omaha. At the same time, there are a few events where it is difficult to imagine specific individuals not punching a ticket to London for the 2012 Games.
Here's a look at some of the heaviest favorites, who individuals should represent the United States barring a shocking turn of events. We're only selecting those athletes we just can't imagine missing the London Games. Obviously, two names on the male side are given. Is there anyone you feel is a lock to make the American squad and isn't on our list? If so, fire away in the comments section. As you'll see, there are plenty of berths up for bids.
Only three men appear on our list, with four women listed. There was an urge to address the women's 100 backstroke, but with Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Rachel Bootsma and Elizabeth Pelton all in the picture, that race could not be included.
Men's 200 Freestyle
Men's 200 Backstroke
Men's 100 Butterfly
Men's 200 Butterfly
Men's 200 Individual Medley
Men's 400 Individual Medley
Women's 100 Freestyle
Women's 200 Freestyle
Women's 200 Backstroke
Women's 100 Breaststroke
Women's 200 Breaststroke
Women's 100 Butterfly
Women's 400 Individual Medley
**Over the last few years, Elizabeth Pelton has emerged as a rising star for the United States. Her development, to this point, has taken place at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Now, however, the National Team member is racing for T2 in Naples, Florida, where Paul Yetter has set up shop. We wish Pelton the best in her pursuits, but this tidbit is more about partnership than anything else.
When Pelton made the move to T2, Yetter made this statement to Swimming World: "I come at this from a very humble, and appreciative, angle. My mentor is Coach Bob Bowman at NBAC, and the team I've learned much from as a coach is NBAC. One of the great things about being part of Team USA is that we have a lot of coaches contributing in a lot of ways. It's my hope that however long I am coaching Elizabeth, I can help contribute to her progression just the same as Coach Bowman did at NBAC, and how Coach Teri McKeever will do when Pelton moves on to swim for the University of California."
Yetter's comments carry a lot of weight and cast a positive light on the state of coaching in the United States. For many, the primary concern is – as it should be – producing the finest athletes possible and helping this country perform its best in international competition. It's a major reason why the United States sits at the top of the swimming world.
**Wanted to get some discussion going on all-time finals, so over the next several weeks, we'll ask readers to put together historical eight-person championship finals in specific events. Fill out the field based on the greatest swimmers in history and post it in the comments section.
This Week: Men's and Women's 100 Freestyle.
The Lohn Lineup (Alphabetical order): Matt Biondi; John Devitt; Duke Kahanamoku; Jim Montgomery; Alex Popov; Mark Spitz; Pieter van den Hoogenband; Johnny Weissmuller.
The Lohn Lineup (Alphabetical order): Shirley Babashoff; Lorraine Crapp; Inge de Bruijn; Fanny Durack; Dawn Fraser; Helene Madison; Britta Steffen; Libby Trickett.
Note: East German Kornelia Ender, whose credentials easily qualify her for selection, was left off the list because of her involvement in the East German systematic doping program instituted in the 1970s and early 1980s. Barbara Krause has been omitted for similar reasons.
This week's selections were much more difficult than our initial event, the 200 breaststroke. The reason for the increased difficulty stemmed from the historical significance of the event and the legends that competed way back in the day.
**Why did the Court of Arbitration for Sport so swiftly handle the Cesar Cielo doping case, but wait until after the World Championships to declare Venezuela's Albert Subirats free to compete? Oh, Cielo is an Olympic champion and major name. Subirats, a former NCAA champion, might not have the clout of Cielo, but he deserved to be treated in similar fashion. Playing favorites is not the way to go.
Follow John Lohn on Twitter: @JohnLohn