OMAHA, Neb. — Forty-somethings and teen phenoms.
Records and rivalries.
Comebacks and farewells.
Though Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are getting much of the attention, there's no shortage of attention-getting stories heading into the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, which begin today.
• There's 11-time medalist Natalie Coughlin, who is two medals away from becoming this country's most decorated female Olympic swimmer. She will be matched against 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who emerged as the sport's next big star with a dazzling performance at last year's world championships.
• Janet Evans, 40, is attempting to qualify for the London Games after retiring for 15 years. Dara Torres, 45, is trying to make her sixth Olympic team. She insists this will be her last attempt.
• Brendan Hansen, one of America's greatest breaststrokers, called it a career after disappointing at the past two Olympics. But the tug of the water was too strong, so the 30-year-old is back to try again for a more fitting capper to his career.
• Jessica Hardy qualified for the Olympic team four years ago but had to drop out after she failed a doping test. She faced a two-year suspension and possible banishment from the London Games, but an arbitration panel ruled the positive result wasn't her fault. Her suspension was cut in half, and she was cleared to swim in the Olympics if she makes the team.
• Anthony Ervin, 31, won a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Olympics, then mysteriously walked away from the sport before the next Games. He generally just roamed around the country, working odd jobs, finishing college and searching for a deeper meaning to life. Then, out of nowhere, he returned to the sport last year. "However the dice fall, it's been great," he said.
early showdown? Phelps and Lochte could have their first head-to-head matchup tonight. Phelps passed on the deadline to scratch from the 400-meter individual medley, meaning he will at least swim the preliminary round this morning, as will Lochte, a former Gator, who won last year's world championship.
Phelps won the 400 IM at the past two Olympics but vowed after 2008 to give up the event that requires all four strokes. But he put the race back in his program at several meets leading up to the trials.
familiar face: Tampa resident Sam Stosur, winner of tennis' U.S. Open last year, was the fourth-most recognized Australian Olympian in her native country in a poll done for a newspaper. She was recognized by 73 percent of the 500 people surveyed for the Sunday Age, behind three triple-gold-medal-winning swimmers: Stephanie Rice, Libby Trickett and Leisel Jones.