London Games Olympic Swimming Preview (Part 1) | By Sasha Sproule

Joining The Wanderer Online’s talented contingent of Bears and Pandas bloggers is Sasha Sproule, one of the team leaders for the University of Alberta Swim Team. In addition to playing a major role on one of the top CIS and Canada West Conference swim teams, Sasha is highly-involved with the University Athletics Board and is paying close attention to the 2012 Olympics. We’re stoked to see her join the Wand, and provide readers with all that they need to know about one of the Olympics oft-publicized sports.

It’s that time again; the time where the world comes together to watch the best of the best compete in the summer Olympics. It almost feels like you’re there at the games, and you become personally invested in the journeys that the athletes go through. From the preliminary competition right down to the finals, you are glued to the television wondering who will come home with that coveted Olympic gold, or at least I know that I am glued to the TV even watching sports I know very little about.

Since being a member of the Pandas swim team for the past four years, I will always have a love and a passion for the sport of swimming. After watching and competing at the Canadian Olympic trials in Montreal at the end of March/beginning of April, I got to see first-hand swimmers that I have raced and watched my whole life, realize their dream of making the Canadian Olympic team. It was really cool to see the reactions to making the team; many of them were speechless and couldn’t believe that their dreams had finally come true. All the hard work that they had put in year after year had paid off. These Canadian swimmers were off to London to race the best swimmers the world has ever seen.

The Canadian Olympic team is looking better than ever; we have many fresh faces to the Olympic scene. There are some returners to the team, one of them being Ryan Cochrane who won bronze at the 2008 games in the 1500 meter freestyle. Cochrane also has a chance to claim a medal, potentially in the 400 meter freestyle a few days before his best event, the 1500. Other swimmers to look out for on the Canadian roster would be Julia Wilkinson in the 100 meter backstroke and freestyle, Martha McCabe in the 200 meter breaststroke and Brent Hayden in the 100 meter freestyle, all who have all been medalists over the past few years in world competition. Some rookies to keep an eye on are Sinead Russell in the 200meter backstroke and Tera Van Beilen in the breaststroke races. The Canadian team has more potential for earning medals than they have in past years. The mentality of the team is more who is going to win a medal first and show the other countries that typically dominate the swimming world, such as the United States and Australia, that the Canadian team will put up a fight and be hard to beat.

Earlier this summer, the Americans had their Olympic swimming trials, also extremely exciting, and again keeping me glued to the TV. Probably the biggest story of these trials was the many epic swimming battles between two of the world’s best: Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. The two swimmers were separated by just tenths of seconds in many races at the trials. Phelps dominated the podium in the last Olympics, earning himself eight gold medals over the course of the competition to add to his six golds and two bronzes from the Athens Olympics in 2004. After the 2008 games in Beijing, Phelps said that he wouldn’t be swimming the same program again for the London games. Phelps managed to surprise the world when he swam and qualified for London in all the same races as he did four years ago. Post-trials he dropped the 200 meter freestyle to focus more on some of the other races and the relays.  Michael Phelps made history in 2008 being the man with the most Olympic gold medals ever won in one Olympics. This summer he plans to make history again, as he only needs three more medals to break the record of the most medals ever won in an Olympic career.

Ryan Lochte is also a favorite for many medals in London. The swimmer out of Florida has won three golds, two silvers, and one bronze and currently holds the world record in the 200 meter individual medley (a race where the swimmer swims 50 meters of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle in that order, all within one race). Lochte is also very well known for his backstroke, so keep an eye out for him as he is a favorite for some medals in the backstroke events in London.

The swimming gets underway with the men’s 400 meter individual medley, the first of the exciting battles between Phelps and Lochte.



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