U.S. Pool Party in London
I love the Olympics. Maybe it’s the fact that they only come around once every four years, maybe it’s that I just love sports in general and I get to watch so many different ones in a span of two weeks, or maybe its the fact that I believe when athletes compete for their country, it brings on a whole new level of meaning. After watching the spectacular events from last night’s Opening Ceremony, I woke up today incredibly pumped for the day ahead of Olympic competition. The amazing part of the Olympics is that I can literally flip through the different channels at all times of day and catch such uniquely different competitions taking place at the same time. After watching the brilliance of tennis star Roger Federer on CNBC, I flipped up to MSNBC and watched an Irish boxer kick the shit out of a Nigerian. It was the perfect balance of Federer’s brilliance and Irish ass kicking to start my Saturday off right. However, it is really just a teaser for the sport I am most looking forward to later on.
Swimming was always something I enjoy doing as a child, though I was never really that good at it. Hence, I had to pull out of a triathlon a couple of years ago due to my fear that I would drown during the race. Still, I love watching Olympic swimmers in action, as they have to be some of the best athletes in the world. Today, the pools of London will be closely watched as the Olympic schedule features two of the most intriguing story lines of the U.S. vantage point. 17 year-old Missy Franklin will swim her first Olympic race during the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay final, and we will have our first match-up of the legendary Michael Phelps and up and coming Ryan Lochte during the men’s 400-meter individual medley final.
Missy Franklin is one of the athletes that is expected to breakout during the 2012 Summer Olympics. The 17-year-old has come onto the scene in the past couple years, earning the 2011 Fina Swimmer of the Year award (I hear that’s pretty, pretty good). In her early career, she has collected seven medals in major international competition, including three gold, three silver, and one bronze in World Championship races. During 2012 Olympic qualifiers, Franklin impressed the swimming world by qualifying to swim in four events during the London games. She won the 100-meter backstroke, setting a new American record by finishing in 58.94. The 100-meter backstroke event will clearly be her best shot for gold, but Franklin has an excellent chance of earning a few medals during these games. I believe the relay team tonight will place and make the podium, starting of Franklin’s Olympics in grand fashion.
The best individual rivalry heading into the Olympics has to be between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and we will have Round 1 of this matchup later today. The two men will swim the same race twice during the Olympics, the first being tonight when they face off during the 400-meter individual medley final, which will be shown at 2 p.m. on the East Coast. The U.S. public remembers Phelps making history as he broke the all-time record for most Gold medals in a single Olympics by winning 8 in Beijing. Phelps needs just three medals of any color to break the record for most all-time in any Olympic sport, which I guarantee he will manage during the London games. However, even though Phelps is easily the most recognizable Olympic swimmer and athlete the U.S. has to offer, he hasn’t been the best swimmer over the past four years. Ryan Lochte has come onto the swimming scene hard, and in the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Lochte went 2-0 against Phelps in their head to head matchups. Lochte also won the 400-meter IM, the race the two men will compete in tonight. Phelps is the all time record holder in the race, but due to Lochte’s emergence, he is not favored to win the race. During Olympic qualifiers, Lochte defeated Phelps by .83 seconds and has a chance to rewrite the history books Phelps set back in 2008. I believe Phelps will get one of the three medals he needs to set the all-time record, but it won’t be the color he really desires, as Ryan Lochte appears to be ready to take the throne from the legendary Michael Phelps, and will capture Gold tonight.
However it turns out, it will be an awesome day in London and I can’t wait to see how the swimming and all the other competitions play out!