With Olympic swimming just beginning, a number of stories have swimmers and non-swimmers alike, buzzing with excitement. There is the story of Michael Phelps, the sport's most decorated athlete, looking to earn Olympic glory one final time. There is also the story of Natalie Coughlin, eleven-time Olympic medalist and captain of the US Women's Team. Coughlin is going for her twelfth medal at the London games, an accomplishment that would place her in a tie with swimming legends Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres, for the most Olympic medals earned by an American woman.Olympics 2012 Giveaway: Enter to Win a Limited Edition Olympics Themed iPhone Case >>
While these stories are certain to dominate headlines about Olympic swimming, fans of Team USA should keep in mind that there are also other, less recognized swimmers with equally compelling stories. These swimmers may not yet be household names, but that could easily change with strong performances in the 2012 games.
In anticipation of their victories, here are a few of the US Olympic swimming team's rising stars: Missy Franklin -
Missy "the missile" Franklin is definitely a swimmer to watch at the upcoming games. Franklin is making her Olympic debut at the age of seventeen, competing in a jaw-dropping six events. This number of events means that she will be swimming more races than seasoned veterans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, who are each qualified for five events. In addition to her swimming, Franklin is also a swimmer to watch because she hails from Colorado. As a native of the state, Franklin has dedicated all of her races to victims of the recent movie theatre shooting. In the event that she is victorious in the pool, Colorado residents may finally have a reason to smile following the terrible violence.
Tyler Clary -
All eyes will be on Tyler Clary when it comes to the two hundred meter butterfly at this year's Olympics. Clary is making his Olympic debut and, if recent performances are any indication, he is likely to earn a medal in the race. In order to earn gold however, Clary will have to beat the event's reigning champion Michael Phelps. The rivalry between the two swimmers will make for a highlight in the games, given that they both train with the University of Michigan's Club Wolverine. In recent weeks, competition between the two swimmers has further intensified with Clary publicly criticizing Phelps for coasting on natural talent, rather working hard in practice. In Clary's words, Phelps has "been asking to get beat for the longest time." Whether such an upset occurs in the two hundred butterfly remains to be seen, but if anyone is capable of the feat, it is Tyler Clary.
Caitlin Leverenz -
Caitlin Leverenz is another rising star on the US Olympic swimming team. Leverenz is making her Olympic debut at the London games, competing in both the two hundred meter and four hundred meter individual medley (IM). This debut comes after narrowly missing the Olympic team with a third place finish in the two hundred meter breaststroke at the 2008 Olympic trials. Having qualified for the Olympic team at last, Leverenz is finally in a position to prove her dominance in the pool. She arrives in London after a string of successes that include multiple NCAA titles, medals at the Pan American games and a national title in the four hundred meter IM.Nathan Adrian -
Nathan Adrian is at an advantage when it comes to this year's Olympic Games. He has experienced the competition before, swimming for Team USA in 2008 and earning a gold medal in the four hundred meter freestyle relay. This time around, though, the twenty-three year-old is looking to earn an individual medal. Adrian's chances of earning a medal are boosted by previous successes at both the World and Pan Pacific Championships. These strong finishes make him a strong contender in the one hundred meter free and a member of Team USA who should definitely not be overlooked.
Allison Schmitt -
Allison Schmitt is another swimmer who is looking for individual Olympic glory this time around. Schmitt has already won a medal at the games, earning a bronze in 2008 as part of the US Women's four by two hundred meter freestyle relay team. Now, looking ahead to London, she is seeking individual glory in both the four hundred meter and two hundred meter freestyle events.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)