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Olympics swimming: Five athletes to watch

Team USA and Team Australia traditionally dominate in the pool, and London should see a renewal of that rivalry. But there are also a few surprises:

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Michael Phelps (r.) and Ryan Lochte talk after competing in the men's 200 meter individual medley final at the US Olympic swimming trials in June in Omaha, Neb.

Mark J. Terrill/AP

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1. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, USA

OK, let's get them out of the way first. They are the great two-headed monster of these Games. 

For his part, Michael Phelps is going after history. Again. If he can win three medals of any color (which he almost certainly will do), he will pass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most-decorated Olympian in history. She has 18 medals. He has 16, of which an astounding 14 are gold (already an Olympic record – by five).

But Ryan Lochte is trying to prove that he, not Phelps, is currently the best swimmer in the world after beating him twice at the 2011 world championships. Phelps, however, beat Lochte in three of four races at US Olympic trials.

Though the two are both set to swim in seven races, they will only face off twice – in the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys. Their other two individual races are different (Phelps the 100 and 200 butterfly and Lochte the 200 back and 200 free), and the remaining three are relays on which they would be teammates.  

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