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Swimming’s ‘Big Four’ monopolize U.S. Olympic Trials action

Swimming’s “big four” – Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky – have a monopoly on U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, according to USA Swimming’s psych sheets dated June 22. One of those big four will likely have races on each night of Trials, which run June 26 to July 3 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Michael Phelps is scheduled for five events: the 100m and 200m butterfly, the 200m individual medley, and the 100m and 200m freestyle. The freestyle events are likely to prove to the U.S. Men’s Olympic Swim Team head coach – who just happens to be Phelps’ longtime coach Bob Bowman – that he’s able to hang with the top dogs in the event to earn a berth for both the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. He’ll have to finish in the top six at Trials in order to make those relays, but will likely stick to clocking a blistering fast time in the preliminary heats.

Ryan Lochte had previously sworn off contesting the 400m individual medley – where he is the reigning Olympic champion – at the 2016 Trials. He hasn’t swum the event internationally since the 2012 Olympics. However, he’s entered in that event, plus the 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley. Lochte likely has the same plans for the 100m and 200m freestyle as Phelps: to post a time in the preliminary heats good enough to earn a spot on the relays. The 100m butterfly is another wildcard for Lochte. He’s never raced it at the Olympics, but it is likely aiding his 400m individual medley.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin is entered in four of her signature events: 100m and 200m freestyle and 100m and 200m backstroke. She is the reigning Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke, plus the 2013 world champion in the 200m freestyle.

Katie Ledecky is slated for a heavy Olympic Trials program: 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle, plus the 400m individual medley. Ledecky said in August that she would use the 400m individual medley (held on the first day of Trials) as a way to “have a race under [her] belt.” Ledecky could be the first U.S. woman to swim the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m at a single Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She is not expected to finish inside the top two of the 50m freestyle, but she holds the world record in both the 400m and 800m distances. She also won the 2015 World title in the 200m freestyle as part of her historic “Ledecky slam.”

 

Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle, is expected in that race plus the 50m freestyle.

Natalie Coughlin, poised to become the single most decorated U.S. female Olympian of all time, is entered in the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m backstroke. She owns 12 Olympic medals total, including two golds in the 100m backstroke (2004, 2008) and two bronzes in the 100m freestyle (2004, 2008).

Swimmers can scratch events at Trials, but can’t enter new events once the deadline for entries passes.