2012 Olympic Trials Preview: Day Two<br /> Women's 100 butterfly, men's 100...

2012 Olympic Trials Preview: Day Two&lt;br /&gt; Women's 100 butterfly, men's 100 breast &amp; women's 400 free

With Olympic Trials fast approaching, we're taking a look at each of the eight days of competition, which will begin June 25 and conclude July 2. We break down who we see as the favorites entering the meet, preview each event, make our our picks for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and give you a list of current and former local area competitors. Read our Day One Preview here.

The second day of competition begins to answer some of the big questions for Team USA. Butterfly star Dana Vollmer is on top of the world right now in the Women's 100 butterfly, but missed in 2008 after making the team in 2004; men's 100 breaststroke received a boost when its biggest star returned from retirement; and finishing the night will be an exciting race between rising stars in the women's 400 freestyle. Check out our Day Two picks below.

Day Two — June 26

Women's 100 butterfly


Dana Vollmer prepares to compete in the 200-meter freestyle during the Santa Clara International Grand Prix swim meet. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

The clear favorite here is Dana Vollmer, who enters the meet with added confidence as the reigning world champion in the event. Last summer she surprised everyone in Shanghai where she put on a clinic in prelims, semifinals, and finals, posting three sub-57 second times, including a new American record. She has owned the event since then.

Right on her heels is an experienced group of Olympians, including one of the most decorated female athletes in any sport —  Natalie Coughlin. The rest of the cast includes Christine MagnusonKathleen Hersey, and Elaine Breeden, who represented the United States in Beijing in the butterfly events. Any of these girls could jump up to challenge for the second spot.

Also in the mix will be collegiate stars Claire Donahue (Western Kentucky) and Olivia Scott (Auburn), the NCAA runner-ups in 2011 and 2012, both of whom have been making steady drops over the last year.

The difference maker in this race has to be Natalie Coughlin, who hasn’t announced her Trials schedule yet. If she decides to swim the sprint fly event at Trials she will be very hard to catch, as she is in her other events the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Coughlin has the second fastest American time in 2012 — 18th in the world — with a time of 58.37 achieved at the Columbus Grand Prix in March. She is an amazingly versatile swimmer, who won gold in this event at the Duel in the Pool and Columbus Grand Prix. 

2008 Olympic Champion: Lisbeth Trickett (Australia) 56.73.

World Record: Sara Sjolstrom (Sweden) 56.06, set in 2009.
American Record: Dana Vollmer (California Aquatics) 56.47, set in 2011.

Predicted Final heat:

*Times in parentheses reflect swimmer’s meet entry time posted by USA Swimming

1. Dana Vollmer —  2011 FINA World Champion (56.47)

2. Christine Magnuson — 2008 Olympic gold medalist (57.32)

3. Natalie Coughlin — 11-time Olympic medalist (58.05)

4. Claire Donahue — 2011 Pan Am Games gold medalist (58.05)

5. Kathleen Hersey — 2008 Olympian, 200 butterfly (58.15)

6.  Alex Forrester — 2011 U.S. (Winter) Nationals silver medalist (58.50)

7. Elaine Breeden — 2008 Olympian, 100 & 200 butterfly (58.60)

8. Olivia Scott — 2012 NCAA Championships runner-up (58.94)

Amanda Kendall preparing for the start at the 2011 Pan American Games (Photo by Antonio Scoraz/ AFP)

Local competitors: Amanda Kendall (Mason Makos) touched in 1:00 flat last summer at Nationals, which seeds her 34th, less than a second out of the top 16. If the time she spent in the weight room during the collegiate season pays off, Kendall could find herself in the semis, giving her confidence heading into her best event, the 100 freestyle, later in the week.

Also in the heats, Curl-Burke's Janet Hu (Oakton HS).  The rising high school junior is known more as a 200 butterfly specialist and doesn't have much of a chance at a second swim in the sprint event, but this meet is really about gaining experience for the rising high school junior.

Picks for London: Dana Vollmer, Natalie Coughlin. If Coughlin swims it, she has the speed and experience to grab the clomid tablets second spot behind Vollmer. But if the veteran chooses to save her energy for later in the meet, any one of the ten swimmers behind her have a shot at making the team if they have a great swim. The trick will be swimming well enough in the semis to position themselves for a shot at the Olympics in the finals.

Men's 100 breaststroke


When Brendan Hansen retired after the 2008 Olympics, it left a void at the top in the 100 breaststroke. That spot was filled by committee over the next three years, until the now-30-year-old Hansen came out of retirement to win U.S. Nationals in a time of 1:00.08 last August. He's team USA's best chance at breaking the 1-minute barrier and challenge Japan's superstar Kosuke Kitajima, the two-time reigning Olympic champion in both breaststroke events.

Brendan Hansen competes at the 2012 Charlotte UltraSwim. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Behind Hansen sits Mark Gangloff and Mike Alexandrov, who have traded off as America's top breaststroke sprinter in Hansen's absence. Those two are often pushed by 200 breaststroke specialist, Eric Shanteau, who has improved his turnover rate to compete in the shorter distance.

On the cusp of breaking into the elite group is deaf swimmer Marcus TitusTitus won a battle with USA Swimming over the use of hand signals at the start in April. He beat Hansen at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in this event and is just .52 off Hansen's time from Nationals.

A big question mark is Kevin Cordes, who is the dark horse in this race. We know he has speed after watching him redefine the American record in the 100-yard breaststroke at NCAAs in March, but we don't know quite yet if he can translate that speed to the long-course format with two less walls to work with.

2008 Olympic Champion: Kosuke Kitajima (Japan) 58.91.

World Record: Brenton Rickard (Australia) 58.58, set in 2009.

American Record: Eric Shanteau (Longhorn Aquatics) 58.96, set in 2009.

Predicted Final heat:

*Times in parentheses reflect swimmer’s meet entry time posted by USA Swimming

1. Brendan Hansen — 2004 Olympic silver medalist, former world record holder (1:00.08)

2. Mark Gangloff — American record holder in 50-meter breaststroke, 2004 & 2008 Olympian (1:00.19)

3. Mike Alexandrov — 2004 & 2008 Olympian for Bulgaria, now swims for United States (1:00.26)

4. Eric Shanteau — 2008 Olympian in 200 breaststroke (1:00.31)

5. Kevin Swander — 2011 U.S. Nationals silver medalist (1:00.32)

6. Marcus Titus — 2011 U.S. (Winter) Nationals, 2011 U.S. Nationals bronze medalist  (1:00.66)

7. Eric Friedland — 2011 NCAA Champion in 200 breaststroke (1:01.57)

8. Kevin Cordes — American record holder (short-course yards), 2012 NCAA Champion (1:01.60)

Local competitors: Eric Friedland (Longhorn Aquatics/Texas/RMSC/Walter Johnson) is seeded 12th going into Trials. He struggled at NCAAs this year, finishing well off the podium, but Texas head coach, Eddie Reese, is one of the best out there and may have trained his elite group through the collegiate championships with Omaha as the ultimate goal.

Also qualified is Zach Hayden (Curl-Burke) seeded 34th, Chuck Katis (Curl-Burke/Harvard/Langley) seeded 53rd, and Matthew Fedderly (SNOW) seeded 96th.

Picks for London: Hansen, Shanteau. Hansen didn't return to the sport to finish third in his best event. He's been America's best in the 100 breaststroke since the 2003 World Championships and a short retirement hasn't changed anything. For the second spot, Shanteau has shown he's more than a 200 breaststroker over the last several months. He isn't afraid to be a second lap swimmer in this race and can swim from behind even in the shorter sprint event. I'd expect him to lay out in the end to out touch either Gangloff or Titus.

Women's 400 freestyle


While not the American' best event, it should be a fun one to watch at Trials with a great group of rising swim stars.

At the top are Allison Schmitt, Katie Hoffand Chloe Sutton. As the best 200 freestyler in the group, this is Schmitt's race to lose. Her performances all year in the Grand Prix events have solidified Schmitt as the favorite in both events. She'll lead this race from the beginning, most likely by a wide margin, before the race really begins. Sutton, Hoff, Kate Ziegler, Katie Ledecky, and Gillian Ryan are all back-half swimmers and will chase down Schmitt fast.

Allison Schmitt competes in the women's 400m freestyle event during the USA Swimming Grand Prix Charlotte UltraSwim. (Davis Turner/Reuters)

Hoff has seemed to oscillate between being an IMer and a freestyler after earning silver in the 400 free and bronze in the 400 IM in Beijing. We predicted a disappointing third on the opening night of Trials for Hoff in the 400 IM, but expect her bounce back, intent on making the team in this event. She's experienced and fast, and could challenge Schmitt at any point in this race for the lead.

Sutton is the wildcard in the race, having fully made the transfer from open water swimming to the pool. She's better the longer the distance, but has shown herself capable of competing in the mid-distance events too. If Hoff isn't focused, Sutton could slip by the Hoff, who was once called the best all-around American swimmer, but who has now often criticized — unfairly in many ways — for failing to live up to the public's lofty expectations.

Another swimmer with a lot to prove is local super star, Kate Ziegler, who qualified for the Olympics in 2008 behind Hoff in the 400 and 800 freestyle, but didn't advance beyond the heats.

Outside of the veterans in the race are the future of American freestyle. In their first Olympic Trials, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky and 16-year-old Gillian Ryan are far from consolation swimmers and will challenge the field from start to finish. Ryan won the 800 freestyle at U.S. Nationals last August and keeps getting better at the shorter distances.

Ryan and Ledecky seem to drop seconds every time they dive in against the top contenders, and could scare the field with their closing speed at the end, making Hoff, Sutton, and Ziegler worry a little bit more about the 800 freestyle on the final day of competition.

2008 Olympic Champion: Rebecca Adlington (Great Britain) 4:03.22

World Record: Federica Pellergrini (Italy) 3:59.15, set in 2009.

American Record: Katie Hoff (North Baltimore) 4:02.20, set in 2008.

Predicted Final heat:

1. Chloe Sutton — 4th place at 2011 FINA World Championships in 800 free; 2008 Olympian in Open Water (4:05.19)

2. Allison Schmitt — 2011 U.S. Nationals gold medalist in 200 freestyle (4:05.40)

3. Katie Hoff — 2008 Olympic silver medalist (4:05.50)

4. Katie Zeigler — World record holder in 1,500 freestyle (4:05.52)

5. Katie Ledecky — 15-16 year-old National Age Group record holder in 1,000-yard & 1,650-yard freestyles (4:05.79)

6. Ashley Steenvoorden — 2011 U.S. National gold medalist (4:07.63)

7.  Amber McDermott — 2012 NCAA Championships runner-up as a freshman (4:08.93)

8. Gillian Ryan — 2011 U.S. Nationals gold medalist in 800 freestyle (4:09.51)

Local competitors: Katie Ledecky headlines this group, but Kaitlin Pawlowicz (Texas/Curl-Burke/Oakton HS) will also be in the race along with her. Both are better at the 800 distance.

Picks for London: Schmitt, Hoff. Schmitt will be too fast to catch, while Hoff is savvy enough to hold off the charging group of distance specialists to earn herself a third trip to the Olympic Games.