It is hardly an overstatement to describe the US Olympic Swimming Team as a force to be reckoned with. The team has a record of achievement at the games, built over the decades by legends such as Mark Spitz, Janet Evans, Matt Biondi and Jenny Thompson.
The London Olympics this year are presumably another opportunity for Team USA to shine. The 2012 squad has a high likelihood of victory as it is led by seasoned veterans like Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin, and supported by rising stars like Missy Franklin and Cullen Jones. Still, even with its tradition of excellence, America is not guaranteed success in Olympic swimming this year.
Those on the US team face strong opposition from a number of international swimmers, each of whom are seeking glory of their own. To get a better idea of the competition faced by American swimmers, here are a few international swimming stars with the potential to pull off major upsets in London: Olympics 2012 Giveaway: Enter to Win a Limited Edition Olympics Themed iPhone Case >>Park Tae-Hwan -
Ask any South Korean to name a famous athlete and they will likely mention swimmer Park Tae-Hwan. Since winning a gold medal in the four hundred meter freestyle at the 2008 Olympics, Park has become a national hero for Korea. He has been featured in advertisements across the country, for products ranging from home appliances to sporting apparel. Naturally, though, Park's fame is predicated on his success in the water. This makes him especially eager to continue achieving at the London Olympics. In particular, Park seems likely to have his sights set on Michael Phelps. Phelps narrowly edged the South Korean out in 2008, in the finals of the two hundred meter freestyle. This time around, however, the results may be different. Park has already upset Phelps since Beijing, beating him in 2011 at the Santa Clara Grand Prix by more than half a second. If this upset is any indication, the London two hundred freestyle finals will definitely be a race to watch.
Rebecca Adlington -
Americans should definitely take note of swimmer Rebecca Adlington during this year's Olympics. A native of Britain, Adlington will be swimming her races on home soil. Whether this gives her a home pool advantage is unknown, but either way Adlington is likely to continue her domination of the pool. She returns to London, following gold medal performances in Beijing, in both the four hundred and eight hundred meter freestyle. In addition, Adlington's performance in Beijing for the eight hundred meter freestyle was further distinguished by breaking the nineteen year-old world record held in that event by American swimmer Janet Evans. This time around, Adlington is the woman to beat and she is unlikely to give up her titles to Americans without a fight.
Milorad Cavic -
Milorad Cavic is a swimmer that few people would have considered a threat two years ago. At that time, Cavic was a Serbian swimmer whose best days seemed to be behind him. He had given an impressive performance at the Olympics in 2008, losing to Michael Phelps by only tenths of a second in the one hundred meter butterfly. That race had been so close that Olympic officials needed to review it to determine the winner. Still, in the time following Beijing, Cavic suffered a back injury and was forced to undergo surgery. In this wounded state, his swimming career was considered to be over. Yet in a show of tremendous resilience, the Serbian has bounced back, delivering strong finishes at the European Championships this past May. Now his sights are set on the Olympics and tenths of a second may no longer be enough to prevent a sweeping upset.
Stephanie Rice -
If American women are going to have any success at the London Olympics, they will probably have to defeat Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice. Rice is the defending Olympic champion in the two hundred meter and four hundred meter individual medleys. She is also a distinguished freestyler, having won a gold medal at the last Olympics in the women's four by two hundred meter freestyle relay. This time around, in addition to defending her IM titles, Rice is looking to earn additional gold medals in the two hundred meter and four hundred meter freestyle events. Whether America's female swimmers can stop her remains to be seen.Got Olympics fever? Find the events faster, wherever you go, with the "2012 Olympics" listings on our free mobile app, the BuddyTV Guide!Nick RaithelContributing Writer(Image courtesy of NBC)