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Swimming: What to watch for at London Olympics

Ryan Lochte, left, and Michael Phelps could be two of the stars of the London Olympics.

Jeff Haynes/REUTERS

Ryan Lochte, left, and Michael Phelps could be two of the stars of the London Olympics.

A look at the swimming competitions of the London Olympic Games:

MEN’S SWIMMING

50-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 20.91, Cesar Cielo Filho, Brazil (2009)

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US ENTRIES: Cullen Jones, Anthony Ervin

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ervin, last seen dead-heating for gold with Gary Hall, Jr. in 2000, is even faster at 31. He and Jones both could make the podium behind defending champion Cielo Filho after the Yanks missed medaling for the first time in Beijing.

100-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 46.91, Cielo Filho (2009)

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US ENTRIES: Nathan Adrian, Jones

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: No American has won this event since Matt Biondi in 1988 and that trend won’t change. The Australians, who haven’t taken gold since 1968, could go 1-2 behind world champ James Magnussen and James Roberts. Adrian will be in the chase for the bronze.

200-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 1:42.00, Paul Biedermann, Germany (2009)

US ENTRIES: Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With defending champion Phelps scratching, world king Lochte is odds-on to inherit the crown. Biedermann and France’s Yannick Agnel battle for bronze.

400-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 3:40.07, Biedermann (2009)

US ENTRIES: Peter Vanderkaay, Conor Dwyer

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: South Korea’s Park Tae Hwan is favored to repeat but he’ll be pushed by China’s Sun Yang, who pursued him to the wall at the world meet. The Americans, who customarily earn the bronze, will be off the podium this time.

1,500-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 14:34.14, Sun Yang, China (2011)

US ENTRIES: Andrew Gemmell, Connor Jaeger

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Chinese never have medaled in this event but Sun should take gold ahead of Park. Though the Americans have made two of the last three podiums, it’ll be a tough slog this time.

100-meter backstroke

WORLD RECORD: 51.94, Aaron Peirsol, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: Matt Grevers, Nick Thoman

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Americans have owned this race for the last four quadrennia and Grevers, the Beijing runnerup, could keep the string going if he can outpace world co-champ Camille Lacourt. Thoman could slip into the third spot.

200-meter backstroke

WORLD RECORD: 1:51.92, Peirsol (2009)

US ENTRIES: Lochte, Tyler Clary

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Lochte, the defending champ and world titlist, is a lock to make it five straight for the US, with Japan’s Ryosuke Irie in his wake. Pencil in Clary for bronze.

100-meter breaststroke

WORLD RECORD: 58.58, Brenton Rickard, Australia (2009)

US ENTRIES: Brendan Hansen, Eric Shanteau

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: After the heart-related death of Norwegian world champion Alexander Dale Oen, the path is clear for Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima to win a record third-straight gold, but countryman Ryo Tateishi is a major roadblock. Hansen, who medaled in Athens but missed in Beijing, could be crowded out by Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli and South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh.

200-meter breaststroke

WORLD RECORD: 2:07.31, Christian Sprenger, Australia (2009)

US ENTRIES: Scott Weltz, Clark Burckle

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Kitajima goes for an unprecedented triple-double, challenged by Hungarian world titlist Daniel Gyurta and Takeishi. Weltz, the surprise of the US trials, needs to get faster to make the podium.

100-meter butterfly

WORLD RECORD: 49.82, Michael Phelps, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: Phelps, Tyler McGill

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Phelps won this one by a fingernail last time. He’s still world champ but the man he touched out in Beijing, Serbia’s Milorad Cavic, will be chasing him again, as will a few others.

200-meter butterfly

WORLD RECORD: 1:51.51, Phelps (2009)

US ENTRIES: Phelps, Clary

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: It’s a three-peat for Phelps in his signature event. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda and China’s Wu Peng, who joined him on the world podium, should be there again.

200-meter individual medley

WORLD RECORD: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte, US (2011)

US ENTRIES: Phelps, Lochte

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Phelps, who finished behind Lochte at the global meet but beat him at trials, goes for his third straight title. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who came between them in Beijing, will be up there again.

400-meter individual medley

WORLD RECORD: 4:03.84, Phelps (2008)

US ENTRIES: Lochte, Phelps

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Phelps won it last time but it’s Lochte’s race now. They’ll go 1-2 to kick off the week for the Yanks, with Cseh settling for bronze this time.

400-meter freestyle relay

WORLD RECORD: 3:08.24, US (2008)

US ENTRIES: Adrian, Jones, Grevers, Berens, Jimmy Feigen, Jason Lezak

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Lezak’s heroic anchor leg in Beijing clinched the first US victory since 1996 but a repeat is a stretch. The Yanks were third behind the Australians and French at the world meet and drafting Phelps again might not be enough.

800-meter freestyle relay

WORLD RECORD: 6:58.55, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: Phelps, Lochte, Berens, Dwyer, Matthew McLean, Charles Houchin, Davis Tarwater

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With the world’s two top 200-meter men in Phelps and Lochte, a third straight gold should be a given, with the French and Chinese (yes, Chinese) in the backwash.

400-meter medley relay

WORLD RECORD: 3:27.28, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: To be determined

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The days when this was a star-spangled victory lap are over. Except for Phelps in the butterfly, the Americans didn’t win any of the individual 100-meter events at the global meet and edged the Australians by only two tenths of a second. If they let it come down to the freestyle leg, they’ll have to settle for silver.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING

50-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 23.73, Britta Steffen, Germany (2009)

US ENTRIES: Jessica Hardy, Kara Lynn Joyce

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Dutch speed racers Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Marleen Veldhuis will chase Sweden’s Therese Alshammar, the Sydney champion and 34-year-old reigning world titlist. Hardy will need to hustle to be among them.

100-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 52.07, Steffen (2009)

US ENTRIES: Hardy, Missy Franklin

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: It’s been 40 years since an American won this race against a full field and it’ll be no different this time. There’ll be a wild podium scramble among Aleksandra Gerasimenya of Belarus and Jeanette Ottesen of Denmark, who dead-heated for global gold, plus Kromowidjojo, Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem and Great Britain’s Francesca Halsall.

200-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 1:52.98, Federica Pellegrini, Italy (2009)

US ENTRIES: Allison Schmitt, Franklin

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Schmitt, Phelps’ clubmate, could produce the first US gold here in two decades but she’ll have to outkick Pellegrini, the defending champ and world titlist, as well as Australia’s Kylie Palmer and France’s Camille Muffat.

400-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 3:59.15, Pellegrini (2009)

US ENTRIES: Schmitt, Chloe Sutton

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Very tough medal what with British defending champion Rebecca Adlington, world titlist Pellegrini and Muffat. But the US has made the podium at the last three Games and Schmitt has the potential.

800-meter freestyle

WORLD RECORD: 8:14.10, Rebecca Adlington, Great Britain (2008)

US ENTRIES: Katie Ledecky, Kate Ziegler

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The US was shut out here for the first time in 2008. Though Ziegler was second at trials behind the 15-year-old Ledecky she’s the world bronze medalist. To collect gold, she’ll have to outkick defending champion Adlington in her home pool.

100-meter backstroke

WORLD RECORD: 58.12, Gemma Spofforth, Great Britain (2009)

US ENTRIES: Franklin, Rachel Bootsma

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending champion, didn’t make the squad but Franklin, her reincarnation, has the goods for gold. Biggest barriers are Chinese world champion Zhao Jing and Russia’s Anastasia Zueva.

200-meter backstroke

WORLD RECORD: 2:04.81, Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe (2009)

US ENTRIES: Franklin, Elizabeth Beisel

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: No American in four decades has prevailed here but Franklin, the world titlist, is primed for a breakthrough. Beisel, fifth last time, could join her on the stand.

100-meter breaststroke

WORLD RECORD: 1:04.45, Jessica Hardy, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: Breeja Larson, Rebecca Soni

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Larson produced a trials stunner by beating Soni, the Beijing runnerup and reigning world champ. That should give the US two medals in the event for the first time. Australian gold medalist Leisel Jones will be up there as well.

200-meter breaststroke

WORLD RECORD: 2:20.12, Annamay Pierse, Canada (2009)

US ENTRIES: Soni, Micah Lawrence

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: No woman ever has won this race twice in a row but Soni should be the one. Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova, Canada’s Martha McCabe and a couple of Japanese will push her.

100-meter butterfly

WORLD RECORD: 56.06, Sarah Sjoestroem, Sweden (2009)

US ENTRIES: Dana Vollmer, Claire Donahue

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Vollmer, who missed the team last time, now is the world’s best. If she can hold off Sjoestrom and Australia’s Alicia Coutts, she’ll be the first US woman since 1964 to win the event at an overseas Games.

200-meter butterfly

WORLD RECORD: 2:01.81, Liu Zige, China (2009)

US ENTRIES: Cammile Adams, Kathleen Hersey

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Chinese claimed this event for the first time in their home pool and should keep it with world champion Jiao Liuyang. Liu, who won bronze, figures to be in the mix as will British runnerup Ellen Gandy.

200-meter individual medley

WORLD RECORD: 2:06.15, Ariana Kukors, US (2009)

US ENTRIES: Caitlin Leverenz, Kukors

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: If Kukors, the 2009 world titlist, returns to form, she could be the first Yank to win the event since Tracy Caulkins in 1984. That’s a tall order against the likes of Australian defending champ Stephanie Rice, Chinese world titlist Ye Shiwen and Coutts. A medal of some color, though, is customary.

400-meter individual medley

WORLD RECORD: 4:29.45, Stephanie Rice, Australia (2008)

US ENTRIES: Beisel, Leverenz

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Beisel, the team’s kid sister in 2008, now is world champion. If she can dispatch Rice, the defending gold medalist, Great Britain’s Hannah Miley and China’s Zheng Rongrong, she’ll be the first American victor since Janet Evans in 1988.

400-meter freestyle relay

WORLD RECORD: 3:31.72, Netherlands (2009)

US ENTRIES: Hardy, Franklin, Schmitt, Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, Natalie Coughlin

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Americans haven’t won this race since 2000 and aren’t likely to do it here. The Dutch still rule but the US quartet should be good for a third consecutive silver.

800-meter freestyle relay

WORLD RECORD: 7:42.08, China (2009)

US ENTRIES: Schmitt, Franklin, Vollmer, Lauren Perdue, Shannon Vreeland, Alyssa Anderson

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: After an unsatisying Beijing bronze, the Americans figure to be back on the gold standard, with the Australians and Chinese in their wake.

400-meter medley relay

WORLD RECORD: 3:52.19, China (2009)

US ENTRIES: To be determined

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Australians are two-time defending champions but the Americans, who hold the world title, are ready to displace them behind Vollmer and Soni, the planet’s best in fly and breast.

OPEN WATER (10 kilometer)

US ENTRIES: Alex Meyer, Haley Anderson

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Expect a free-for-all along Hyde Park’s Serpentine course, which will be decidedly cooler than Beijing’s hot tub. Meyer, who just missed bronze at the world championships, could slip through to the medal stand.

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