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Olympics swimming: Five athletes to watch

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Kosuke Kitajima competes in the 200 meter breaststroke final during the Santa Clara International Grand Prixin June in Santa Clara, Calif.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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2. Kosuke Kitajima, Japan

Two swimmers at the London Games have an early crack at becoming the first male swimmer to win a gold medal in the same event at three consecutive Games: Phelps and Kosuke Kitajima.

And both will have multiple opportunities.

Phelps will have the first turn. He swims the 400-meter individual medley on the competition's first night. If he fails, Kitajima is a strong favorite to do it the following night in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Kitajima has also won the 200-meter breaststroke at the past two Games, while Phelps has also won the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly, and 200-meter butterfly in Athens and Beijing. Kitajima's time in the 200-meter breaststroke at trials this year in Japan was the fastest recorded since swimming authorities banned super-fast bodysuits in 2010.

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