CRANBURY, New Jersey, August 14. AS the 2008 Olympic Trials grow closer, Swimming World Magazine will periodically take a look at an event and how it is shaping up heading into the action in Omaha. Today, we'll take a look at the men's 400 individual medley, which is stocked with depth in the United States. Figure on at least one potential medalist not qualifying for Beijing.
At the top of the list, of course, is Michael Phelps, the reigning Olympic champ and world-record holder. The Club Wolverine star is nearly a lock to walk away with another gold medal in this event, a grueling test of each stroke. Phelps doesn't have a weakness and delivered an almost unfathomable time of 4:06.22 earlier this year at the World Championships in Melbourne.
Look for Ryan Lochte and Erik Vendt to chase the second slot for the United States, as both men are accomplished internationally in the 400 IM. Lochte won the silver medal at the World Champs in 4:09.74 while Vendt has been the silver medalist at the past two Olympic Games. The thing to remember with Vendt is that he's only been back in the water from retirement for a little more than a year and should continue to drop time, as was the case with his distance-freestyle events at the U.S. National Championships.
The other Americans to keep an eye on are Pat Mellors, Eric Shanteau and Robert Margalis. Delivering a career-best performance of 4:12.94, Mellors won gold Monday at the World University Games. Meanwhile, Shanteau is equally skilled in the 200 and 400 medley disciplines and is the United States' second-best 200 breaststroker. Margalis ranks among the top-10 performers in history.
Beyond the U.S. Olympic Trials, look for Luca Marin (Italy) and Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) to pace the international contingent. Cseh is a former world champion in the 400 I.M. while Marin was the bronze medalist as this year's World Champs. Also watch Brazil's Thiago Pereira, the Pan American Games titlist currently ranked fourth in the world.