Swimming in Rio: Olympic 2016 Favorites

The US swim team alone, over the years, has won 230 Gold medals out of a total of 520 medals. This time, for eight days between August 6th and 13th, they will enter the Aquatics Stadium at the Barra Olympic Park in Rio to outdo themselves. 

THE LEGEND

Michael Phelps - BookMyShow

It has been four years since Baltimore legend Michael Phelps, a 22-time medal winner with 18 Golds over four Olympics, announced his retirement from the pool. As with most greats who call time in their mid-20s, Phelps, who went through a host of personal and addiction problems, felt the need to get back to what grounded him the most. He is now back in the water, as part of the legendary American swim team – in which he qualified after being written off when he announced his comeback last year. This will be his fifth Olympic event. As perhaps the greatest male swimmer of all time, he has nothing left to prove, except that, at age 30, he can still rule the field if he wants to.

Individual Schedule: 100m butterfly: August 11

200m butterfly: August 8

200m individual medley: August 10

THE NEW LEGEND

Katie Ledecky - BookMyShow

But Phelps is far from the headliner this time. Instead, 19-year-old Katie Ledecky, who burst onto the world stage with a breathtaking 800m swim at the London Olympics at age 15, is an overwhelming favorite to win everything she swims in this time. She holds the world record for 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle, out of which only the first two are Olympics events. She has the fastest time this year for even 200m – which makes her, both, a sprinter as well as an endurance swimmer, a rare achievement for anyone in the history of this sport. She is well on her way to emulate Phelps and even surpass him, given that she has consistently only broken her own records to better times over these distances. She owns the top 10 times in 800m, and will even take part in the 4x200m freestyle relay this time. Nobody has come even close to her in the last four years. She has won every single international race she has swum in, without any silvers or bronzes. Only Debbie Meyer back in the 1968 Mexico Olympics won three individual freestyle Golds in a single events: 200, 400 and 800. Ledecky is primed to join her elite company, and with world records too.

Individual Schedule: 200m freestyle, August 8

800m freestyle: August 11

400m freestyle: August 7

THE CHAMPION

Missy Franklin - BookMyShow

Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old who won four Golds in London with two world records, is now 21 and adamant to be the ‘leader’ of the women’s team. The 2012 World Swimmer of the Year has the medals to back it, and the competition between Ledecky and her will be healthy. She finished second behind Ledecky in the 200m freestyle US Swim trials, and had won only two individual Golds (200m backstroke and 100m backstroke) back in London, finishing fourth in the 200m freestyle and fifth in the 100m freestyle events. However, Franklin dramatically failed to qualify for the 100m backstroke this time, and will not be able to defend her title. In the 2013 World Championships, Franklin won six Golds – a record for any world event by women – and yet Ledecky was declared the Swimmer of the Meet for her four Golds and two world records. You see where this is heading? 

Individual Schedule: 200m freestyle, August 8

200m backstroke: August 11

THE PRETENDER

Ryan Lochte - BookMyShow

Ryan Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, will swim in lesser events this year too. His only individual event will be the 200m individual medley on August 10th, where he will go head-to-head against Phelps in the meet’s most anticipated showdown.

THE NEW BOY

Adam Peaty - BookMyShow

In the 100m breaststroke, Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, who is world champion and world-record holder over this distance, is the clear favorite to defeat 2012 gold medalist, South African Cameron van der Burgh

100m breaststroke: August 6

THE COMEBACK KID

Sun Yang - BookMyShow

China’s wildchild Sun Yang, one of the brightest stars of the 2012 Games and the record-breaking gold medalist for the 400m and 1500m freestyle, has been to hell and back over four years. The 6’6 star will also swim in the 200m individual freestyle this year, hoping to put behind him a phase of injuries, doping bans and controversies. He was injured earlier in January this year, but is still favorite to retain at the very least his 1500m long-distance title. 

200m: August 7

400m: August 6

1500m: August 12

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