Olympics: Day 3 Finals Heat Sheet Posted

ATHENS, Greece, August 16. EACH afternoon Swiminfo will be posting the heat sheets for the day’s events at the Olympic Games in Athens. Be sure to check them out so you have the best information provided to make your medal predictions! Enjoy Swiminfo's coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games and be sure to check back frequently to get all the action from Athens!!

Here's how this observer thinks tonight's races will shape up:

Women's 200m free semifinals
There are 16 semifinalists and up to a dozen have a legitimate chance of making it into the final. The USA's Dana Vollmer has come to swim and the 16 year-old should have little trouble moving on. Others looking good: France's Solenne Figues (the French women are swimming very well), Claudia Poll and probably Franzi van Almsick. Among the big names who look to be in trouble: Elka Graham (AUS), Lindsay Benko (USA) and Martina Moravcova (SVK).

Men's 200m freestyle final
Hyped as the "race of the century," this is NOT a two-man race as the mainstream media have characterized it. It is much more interesting than just Thorpe vs. Phelps.

First off, this is a five-man race: Pieter van den Hoogenband is the defending champion and he looked superb last night in the relay. Then don't forget to add in Australia's Grant Hackett and the USA's Klete Keller. In fact, Hoogie's chances are better after last night, while Thorpe and Phelps look more vulnerable than they seemed before.

Here's how it should shake out. Gold: Thorpe in 1:44-high, an Olympic record; Silver-Hoogie, after leading through 150 meters, finishing about 1:45.0; Bronze-Phelps, about 1:45.5; fourth-Keller and fifth-Hackett, both about 1:46.0.

Women's 100m backstroke final
Natalie Coughlin should win this one, probably dipping under a minute but missing her world record. France's Manaudou looks good for silver, while a hot Kirsty Coventry could surprise and sneak in for the bronze.

Men's 100m backstroke final
Aaron Peirsol has everything going for him for the win, though he may have been shaken by Texas teammate Brendan Hansen's loss in the 100 breast and Ian Crocker's weak leadoff swim on the 400 free relay last night. But Peirsol is mentally very tough. More likely he'll see this race as an opportunity to follow up on Natalie's win and regain momentum for the U.S. The wind, however, will probably preclude a world record.

Four fast dorsal specialists will battle for silver and bronze: Australia's Matt Welsh, the USA's Lenny Krayzelburg, Japan's Tomomi Morita and Austria's Markus Rogan. I'll go with Morita and Rogan in that order.

Women's 100m breaststroke final
This should be WR-holder Leisel Jones's race. She's been first through both rounds and she set an Olympic record in semis. But it feels eerily like last year in Barcelona.

The big question is: Can Leisel relax enough to let her body do what it can do faster than any other woman? Or will history repeat itself?

I'm playing it safe and going with history: At least one of five other swimmers will knock Leisel off. It could be teammate Brooke Hanson, the Americans Amanda Beard and Tara Kirk, China's Luo, or Germany's Poewe. Luo also has a history — of getting through the first two rounds and then exploding in thee final. So, here goes…

Gold: Hanson; Silver-Jones; Bronze-Luo.

Men's 200m fly semifinals
Here's one of several events where the Michael Phelps hype actually squares with reality. Mike breezes through this round, along with both Japanese and Poland's Korzeniowski. The big question is whether 2000
Olympic champ Tom Malchow, beset with major shoulder problems, can muster what he needs to make it through. It will be close, but we think he can do it.

Women's 200m IM semifinals
Very little has changed in our analysis of this event. Klochkova, Beard and Hoff will battle for medals. Germany's Theresa Rohmann probably should be taken out of the mix, and Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry added in.

— Phil Whitten

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