PHOENIX, Arizona, July 27. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show we offer up a preview of the men's swimming events at the Olympic Games.
Before they headed to London to cover the meet, Tiffany Elias and John Lohn talked about the rivalry between Phelps and Lochte, as well as the supposed rivalry between James Magnussen and Cesar Cielo. The two analyze the medal contenders in each men's event and talk about the Americans' chances at sweeping the relay gold medals. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Tiffany Elias: This is the Morning Swim Show for Friday July 27th, 2012. I am your host Tiffany Elias, and today is finally the Opening Ceremony and swimming kicks off Day 1 of the Olympic Games tomorrow. On yesterday's show we analyzed the female events and today it is all about the men. Back in the FINIS Monitor is Swimming World Senior Writer John Lohn. John thanks again for joining us.
John Lohn: Great to be here Tiffany.
Tiffany Elias: All right so we covered the women yesterday and on the men's side we have got a few storylines in here that we don't necessarily see on the female side. We have got some rivalries and some match ups that are really anticipated and making a lot of news in the swimming world. Let's start off with of course Lochte and Phelps, the showdown. Lochte taking over Phelps, whatever you want to call it. What are your thoughts on this battle?
John Lohn: I think. The thing that I love the most is that we don't waste any time getting into the rivalry. The very first event up is the 400 IM, which means we get Lochte, Phelps in our face from the get go and I think not only is that going to be great just to see a tremendous battle in the 400 IM. I think it sets the tone for the meet. It is going to get everybody hyped up, not just the swimmers, not just the fans in attendance in London but like I said all around the world and it will set the stage for a great 8 days. This is one hell of a rivalry. There is no other way around it. Look, this is what everybody wants to see. There are other great story lines there, but people want to see the two matchups Phelps and Lochte, we get them both in the medley events.
Tiffany Elias: And it is not just swimming enthusiasts that want to see this rivalry.
John Lohn: Right.
Tiffany Elias: It is every viewer out there, none swimming related. Everybody knows about these two so it is really great to see the swimming sport crossover so many platforms.
John Lohn: Yeah, the cool thing is everybody knows the name Michael Phelps from Beijing, from the 8 gold medals, all the Spitz comparisons in the past, but now everybody knows Ryan Lochte's name, too, and if there is a handful that don't, they sure are going to know them, know his name by Saturday night. It's just a tremendous time for the sport. It's great to see, you know, not just a one-person show in Phelps and that is where everybody links the sport to who doesn't have the vested interest in the intermediate years between Olympics, so this is just a great growth period for swimming.
Tiffany Elias: Now also on the rivalry scene on the sprinter side of things. We have C?sar Ceilo of Brazil and James Magnussen of Australia. Both these guys are going head-to-head, now as we jump into our sprint freestyles you have C?sar Cielo on top and Magnussen, C?sar on the freestyle 50 and Magnussen on the 100 what are your thoughts on these two competitors?
John Lohn: I think C?sar is kind of laid under the radar on this. He hasn't done much talking. He is just getting prepared. James Magnussen is not afraid to speak his mind and he has gone off a couple of times saying yeah C?sar is there, but I am not afraid of him and so he is chirped a little bit and he is the reigning world champion in the 100 free. He is definitely favored to be C?sar there, but C?sar is the undisputed favorite in the 50 free. So I see a split decision out of the two of those guys and we will just have to wait till Worlds next year to see who can get the next round, but yeah, I don't see either of them sweeping the sprints.
Tiffany Elias: All right, hopefully his comments don't come back to bite him, but on the 50 side of things. I thought was interesting is you do have Anthony Ervin in the medal mix for that silver place, which I think would be outstanding. He put together really solid 50s and 100s at the Trials. Do you think he can do it again in London?
John Lohn: Yeah, I really bought in to what Anthony did in Omaha obviously by putting him in the silver medal spot to be away from the sport for as long as he was to be 12 years removed from his Olympic gold medal in the 50 free he shared with Gary Hall in 2000 and to come back and to put up a career best time in Omaha, 2 or 3 career best times. You got to you believe this guy is on a fairytale story and I could see it happening with a medal there. He is such a raw talent and with 4 more weeks I think he should be able to produce a really great 50 maybe he can get C?sar a run. It is hard to believe a guy can separate himself from the field in the 50, but Cielo definitely does. So there is a catch up game being played there, but there is no reason Ervin can't take the silver medal.
Tiffany Elias: All right, I want to dive into the 100 freestyle a little bit more here as it sets us up for the 400 freestyle relay on the men's side, which as we discussed that Trials the United States is not favored in this event — or they might be, assuming Phelps can pull off a good split now he scratched that 200 freestyle, but on the Australia side not only do they have James Magnussen but they have James Roberts and a few others as you can tell us about, but what does the U.S. need to do to secure that gold in the 400 freestyle relay?
John Lohn: Well, Phelps has to be 47-mid off the lead off and then I don't even know what the other parts are going to be. You know Nathan Adrian is probably going to anchor the thing. They are going to need — they don't need Jason Lezak 46.0 relay split. I shouldn't say that, they are not going to get a 46.0 Relay split from Jason Lezak. That is probably a once in a life time performance, but they are going to need some splendid things to happen and some things to fall really into place for the Australians to not be right at their peak with you said Magnussen and Roberts. They are also going to have Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett on that relay. Some things are not going to have to go right for the Aussies I think for the United States to have a chance with the gold medal and we can't overlook France and Russia here. United States is going to have its handful in this event based on what we saw at trials. Tiffany Elias: All right so the 200 freestyle, this is going to be another chance for Lochte to see if he can secure another gold medal. How confident are you in this first place?
John Lohn: I am not and that is not a knock on Ryan at all but this is. I think this is the best event on the Men's side before Phelps decided to scratch out of this and give Ricky Berens that spot in there. I still think without Phelps, this might be the best men's event. You have Yannick Agnel, you have Tae-Hwan Park from Korea, Sun Yang from China, Paul Biedermann from Germany. It is a loaded field. The way — is swimming you know he is going to give Lochte a run. Both of the Asian swimmers Sun Yang, Tae-Hwan Park, Park was a sliver medalist behind Phelps in Beijing. I could see this going in a number of ways. I gave Lochte the nod because the way he wasn't really in full form at trials, plus he is the reigning world champ, that would tip my hand that way.
Tiffany Elias: All right, so you just mentioned Sun Yang. I think he is going to be in the race there for the 200, but it might be a little short for him. He is going to be I think to want to beat for both the 400 and the 1500 freestyle.
John Lohn: Definitely the 1500. I think Ryan Cochrane, Ous Mellouli — the crew there is going to be swimming for silver and bronze behind Sun Yang, the guy broke Grant Hackett's legendary world record last year at World Champs. The 400 I think is going to be an awesome battle between Sun Yang and Tae-Hwan Park. Park's your reigning Olympic champion, they both put up some really fast in season times, that is like we talked about yesterday's show Sjostrom and Vollmer in the 100 fly being a head to head battle, I see this 400 free men's as being a head to head between Sun and Park.
Tiffany Elias: Now just covering all the men's freestyle events. We are not saying at least in your top 3 prediction of each events, we are not really seeing that much depth on the United States side over all in freestyle.
John Lohn: Well the 400 free was a concern coming out of trials. Maybe Peter Vanderkaay was able to find something over the past month to put himself into the mix. Lochte's 200 free obviously he is there but Berens is going to have to really work hard just to get into the final because of the depth of that. The 1500 I think there is two guys Connor Jaeger, Andrew Gemmell they are just, they are in another league right now from the Sun Yang's the Melloulis, Cochrane. So there is not going to be a ton of American presence in terms of the 4 and a 15 where we are battling for medals.
Tiffany Elias: All right so moving on to the backstroke. This time around we are not going to get a chance to watch Aaron Peirsol, the defending world record holder in the 100 and 200, but on the 100 side you have got the nod going to Matt Grevers.
John Lohn: Yeah Grevers showed so much in trials. Second-fastest time produced, fastest in a textile suit 52.20 and that immediately launched him into the conversation with Frenchman Camille Lacourt for the gold medal spot. Ryosuke Irie from Japan is a better 200 backstroker but he should be in the medal hunt there. I think I would have him in the bronze spot.
Tiffany Elias: You do, and you also have Irie in second place on that 200 backstroke side right behind Lochte and Tyler Clary also getting in there on the medal stand for third. That would be a really great swim for him.
John Lohn: Yeah, Tyler gets so overlooked unless he is making comments that really I think he regretted making it and I am preferring to the Michael Phelps comments about his work ethic.
Tiffany Elias: Yeah what are your thoughts on that?
John Lohn: Young guy got caught in a situation where he started spouting off and not realizing exactly what he was doing or the repercussions of it. If he could take it back he would have and obviously there is not a delete button a lot of times. So you move on, you focus on what you have to do and it is a part of history now. It is not an issue going forward and it happened, it is done. He needs to just worry about what he has to do and that is pushing for a medal in the 200 backstroke, which is his best chance. He is a guy who is among the top 3 in the world here so he should at least get a podium spot in my opinion.
Tiffany Elias: All right now on the breaststroke side, one of the few swimmers that could double, Kosuke Kitajima, he really has been the one to beat for awhile now.
John Lohn: I don't know if — there is Phelps, but I don't know if there is anybody if you take over the past two Olympiads who answered the call when it matters the way Kitajima has. Got it in the 100, 200 in Athens and came back in Beijing. Threw down a couple of times earlier this year I believe the Japanese Nationals that say, “Hey, here I am again, guess what, I am the guy.” And that is what it comes down to in the 100 and 200. Nobody has ever tripled amongst the men. Phelps has 4 chances at it, Kitajima has these two and the way he swam a 58.9 a year earlier this year in the 100 I have to say he is definitely the favorite there. Especially in the tragic death of Alexander Dale Oen, he is the reigning World Champion who passed away in late April, cardiac arrest while training in Flagstaff. He would have been the premier challenger for Kitajima and now I think Kitajima is definitely separated in the 100. The 200 is going to be a little bit more of tighter race with Dani Gyurta from Hungary in the mix.
Tiffany Elias: Now on the men's side for the 100 breaststroke we have Brendan Hansen with a pretty good chance of getting in there on the medal stand. On the 200 side as we saw from trials Brendan didn't get in there. We have got some youngsters leading the way so with the future of 200 breaststroke, realistic that they are going to top 8?
John Lohn: Yeah, I can see them getting in the top 8. I don't think they will battle for a medal at all and that is — I am not trying to slight Clark Burckle or Scott Weltz at all, but the 200 breaststroke right now between Kitajima, Dani Gyurta, Christian von Lehm from Germany, Rio Tateishi from Japan. They are just– if you look at their times, they are considerably faster than where the Americans are and those Americans were clearly tapered, clearly rested for trials just to get through to this point so to come back and to drop its kind of time that they are going to need, I just don't see happening.
Tiffany Elias: All right so on to the butterfly, Phelps not with quite the same lineup as he had in 2008, but he is really looking to be on top for the 100 and the 200 butterfly, but I am really looking forward to the 100 as he gets another chance to go head-to-head with Čavić, who as we know he only out touched one hundredth of a second back in '08.
John Lohn: And the nice thing Milorad Čavić is that there was a lull, we didn't hear much from him in between the Olympics. There were some injuries he was dealing with. He started to show recently that he was regaining form, and what better time to regain form than an Olympic year. So it is going to be a situation again Čavić takes it out very fast and then Phelps, like he does to everybody seemingly will be stalking him down.Tyler McGill is going to be right in that picture. Konrad Czerniak from Poland will be in the mix for a medal, but it is Phelps. The 100 and 200 fly's are Phelps is to lose.
Tiffany Elias: Yeah definitely going to fun ones to watch and I think it would be great if McGill gets in there as well. Now the 200 IM and 400 IM, the last individual events to cover, already tapped into the 4 IM a little bit but what is interesting here as we saw on trials Phelps took the 2 IM, Lochte took the 4 IM. You think it is going to play out like that again here?
John Lohn: I picked Locthe to win the 400 IM in London. I picked Phelps to win the 200, and the only reason I went with that is Lochte is going to have about 20 to 25 minutes before he will have that final of the 200 backstroke and you give any sort of window, any opening or little window from Michael Phelps to step through and this usually takes advantage of it. They are so dead even in this event so maybe this is just the one little thing that Michael needs to assure victory. It is going to be one heck of a battle there right to the wall. I think we will both, see both guys under 1:54.00 which is the current world record and everybody else is going to be in another time zone, that is just that the way these guys have separated themselves in the medley events.
Tiffany Elias: 100% agree with that, and what an advantage that gives Phelps with Lochte having that 2 back which as we know backstroke is so, so hard on your legs so definitely going to be an advantage there for Phelps.
John Lohn: The one thing that Lochte will have on his side in that — if you want to call it that– he is prepared for this double for 4 years though. He knew how difficult it was in Beijing because he tried to pull it off there, and so everything he has done has been in preparation for being prepared to handle this double. Now whether he can pull it off, if he does, it is going to be the greatest double the history of the sport seen and good luck ever matching it because it would be a– to win double gold in a matter of 20, 25 minutes that would be ridiculous.
Tiffany Elias: All right John 2 questions for you before we hop into the relays. Now, well respected in a swimming community, know the sport much better than most people. Two questions, in your opinion is Phelps retiring after 2012?
John Lohn: Yes, he has nothing much to prove. I think he has been itching to get away and he has gotten away at times in his career to play golf, to pursue other endeavors, but he is itching for the opportunity to do it completely and on his terms where there isn't that in the back of his mind, “Yeah, I know I got to get back in there at some point or do I want to get back in there at some point.” So we will see how this all shakes out and whether he gets an itch as we creep closer to Rio, but I think this will be the end, and he is going to want to go out in grand fashion.
Tiffany Elias: I want to be surprised if he does get a little itch and decide “I might as well just try the 100 butterfly and see what happens,” but nonetheless he is gong to take a substantial break.
John Lohn: Yeah, big time.
Tiffany Elias: All right second question, overall who is coming out on top? Who would get the story line? Phelps, or Lochte?
John Lohn: Honestly, I don't mean this as a hedge in anyway, they are both going to share them because I think it has gotten to the point now where they are inseparable. If you mention Phelps, you mention Lochte; if you mention Lochte you mention Phelps. They are almost linked these days and if anything Phelps gets a little bit more of the nod because he is pursuing the all time Olympic medal record which is right now held by a Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina and that is 18 so he only needs 3 medals to own that overall record.So there is some history still to be made for Phelps but I truly believe that — and especially because they are swimming– the only two times you are going to clash are the medley events. How do you separate them? You can't mention one without the other.
Tiffany Elias: Well John, I am glad you say, you can't mention one without the other because we are going to coin the term here Team Phelpte, Phelpte and Lochs, you know and that is the trend with celebrities here combining those names so Phelpte is going to be on top this year is what I am saying.
John Lohn: I like that a lot.
Tiffany Elias: All right so on to the relays. U.S.A. you have on top for all three relays. The 400 free, 800 free and the 400 medley, but we already talked —
John Lohn: Australia on top in the 400 free relay.
Tiffany Elias: Okay.
John Lohn: Yeah.
Tiffany Elias: All right so the other ones pretty confident in those?
John Lohn: Definitely the 800 free relay and I know a lot of people feel like China could put out a really good performance there. France, but I think the Americans are really comfortable in the 800 free relay. The 400 medley relay I had a little more concern about before trials and then I saw Matt Grevers and Brendan Hansen look real strong and those are the two questionable legs on that relay and it made me feel a little bit better that they will be comfortable enough ahead of Australia going to the anchor that James Magnussen won't be able to run anybody down. But it will be a little tighter than maybe we are used to seeing in a 400 Medley for the United States.
Tiffany Elias: All right John we have a lot to look forward too. I will be seeing you just shortly over there in London so looking forward to watching these races with you and reporting back to Swimming World.
John Lohn: Can't wait Tif, we are going to have a blast.
Tiffany Elias: All right thanks John.
John Lohn: Take care.
Tiffany Elias: Well that will conclude today's Morning Swim Show, as I mentioned earlier tomorrow is Day 1 of the Olympic Games in London. John and I will be headed across the pond to deliver on-site reports. Make sure to keep up with all the coverage on swimming world.com, Facebook and Twitter. Tune in to Swimming World TV Warm Down Show after each final session for an in depth analysis of each night. I am Tiffany Elias and I will see you next time reporting from London.
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