London’s Calling: Elizabeth Beisel and Cullen Jones

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PHOENIX, Arizona, July 24. TODAY is day 20 in Swimming World's London's Calling series. Only a handful of Team USA swimmers haven't been featured. We'll take this as good news, because fewer athletes left means less wait-time until the London Opening Ceremonies.

Come London, 50 freestyle American Record-holder Cullen Jones will be a formidable sprint-freestyle contender, and reigning 400IM World Champion Elizabeth Beisel will be the IM-er to beat.

Elizabeth Beisel:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

Elizabeth Beisel hit the international swimming stage at a remarkably young age. In 2006, she made the American Pan Pacific team as a thirteen-year-old after placing second in the 200 back at that year's Nationals. At age 15, Beisel was the youngest member of the USA women's swim team at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. She swam the 200 back, placing fifth, and the 400IM, placing fourth.

Now, four years later, Beisel is the 400IM favorite going into London. She also qualified to swim the 200 backstroke, placing second behind Missy Franklin at Trials.

“When I was 15, I was really young. I wasn't really expecting to make the team,” Beisel reflected on her 2008 Trials experience. “But now that I've had all the experience in being a world champion, I feel a little bit more pressure, but I think at this point I can handle it better.”

After London, Beisel will head into her Junior year at the University of Florida, where she trains under coach Gregg Troy. In her two years swimming collegiately, Beisel was an individual 2012 NCAA Championship in the 200 backstroke, and placed third in the 400IM. The year before, won silver in the 400IM and bronze in the 200 backstroke.

Outside of college swimming, Beisel won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 National titles in the 200 backstroke and the 2011 title in the 200 and 400IM.

Beisel smoked her 400IM competition at Trials this year, beating second-place finisher Caitlin Leverenz by over two seconds. This race was similar to her 2011 World Championships 400IM victory, where she beat the field — including current World Record holder Stephanie Rice of Great Britain — by more than two seconds.

Beisel's 4:31.74 Trials time is over two seconds slower than the World Record set by Rice at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. However, this mark came in the midst of the high-tech suit era. Will Beisel be able to capture the record and the Olympic win? Team USA is certainly hoping so.

Cullen Jones:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

“If I don't do well in this 100, it might be the last 100 I'll swim in my life,” Cullen Jones said to himself before his 100 freestyle at this year's Olympic Trials. His personal pep-talk apparently paid off, as he placed second in the event, earning an individual 100 freestyle swim in London.

At the 2008 Trials, Cullen placed third in both the 50 and 100 freestyle, failing to qualify individually for the Beijing Olympics. However, his 100 finish earned him a spot on the men's 4×100 freestyle relay, which went on to win gold and set a new World Record.

“I said to myself 'I want to swim individually in an event,' and I conquered that today,” Cullen said after his 100 freestyle at Trials. “But 2008 is still a bad taste in my mouth after getting third, so the 50 free is still on my mind.”

Cullen won the 50 freestyle at Trials, just one one-hundredth ahead of Anthony Ervin. The win upped his individual event total in London to two, and brought redemption for his double bronze medals at the 2008 Trials. By winning silver in the 100 freestyle at this year's Trials, Cullen also earns a spot on the men's 400 freestyle relay.

Cullen trains at SwimMAC Carolina with coach David Marsh. He credits Marsh and a slew of great sprint training partners for his success. His training partners include SCM 50 free American Record holder Josh Schneider and 2011, 50 freestyle Duel in the Pool Champion Nick Brunelli.

The biggest competition Cullen will face in London comes from Brazil's Cesar Cielo, the reigning Olympic champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Cielo also currently holds the World Records in both events.

Read the rest of the “London's Calling” Series by clicking on the link below:
London's Calling: Swimming World's Countdown to the Opening Ceremonies

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller, a former collegiate and USA swimmer. She got her aquatic start when her father threw her in the backyard pool and demanded she “sink or swim.” Fortunately, her natural survival instinct was strong.

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