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Watch out for Grote tonight

Even though American Kurt Grote did not swim well in Saturday's 100-meter breaststroke _ he finished sixth _ he may be the man to beat in tonight's 200 breast.

Kurt has the top time in the world this year (2 minutes, 13.96 seconds). But he'll have to watch out for Russians Andrei Ivanov and Andrei Korneev, who both swam faster than that last year.

American Eric Wunderlich should swim very well, considering this is his hometown, it's his first Olympics, and it's his only event. Norbert Rosza of Hungary also should be one to watch.

In the women's 200 individual medley, I'm looking for Michelle Smith of Ireland to win her third gold medal. But it won't be easy for her to get past Allison Wagner this time. After finishing second to Smith in the 400 IM, Wagner is ready to win a gold medal. I think she may be even better in the shorter distance.

The other American, Kristine Quance, is ranked third in the world this year. But she may have a hard time bouncing back from her poor 100 breaststroke performance Sunday.

It's important to note that two Chinese swimmers are ranked in the top five in the 200 IM, including world leader Wu Yanyan. But with the way the Chinese are swimming, they may not figure into the medal picture after all.

The men's 100 butterfly should be a great race. It's one of the harder events in which to qualify for the finals.

I noticed that Russia's Denis Pankratov was not very happy after he won the 200 fly Monday night. He had just won the gold medal and he was not smiling _ I'm assuming it was because he didn't swim very fast. He may be mad enough to swim faster in the 100 fly.

Scott Miller of Australia will give him a good race. He set the Australian record this year, the world's best time. Among the Americans, Mark Henderson has been swimming very fast 50s and splits in practice, and could win a medal. So could John Hargis. It's his first big meet; if he can stand the pressure he should make the finals.

U.S. gold is more or less assured in the women's 400 medley relay. With gold medalists Beth Botsford, Amy Van Dyken and Angel Martino and silver medalist Amanda Beard swimming, I don't think anyone can beat them. They may even break a world record.

The women's 800 freestyle preliminaries are today. It's not a very fun race to do twice. Janet Evans I'm sure is still upset about not qualifying for the 400 free finals, and she will do anything she can to make sure she makes the final this time. Brooke Bennett will make it. There's no doubt in my mind.

St. Petersburg native Nicole Haislett, winner of three gold medals in Barcelona and currently an assistant coach at Florida, is in Atlanta for the swimming events.

Up next:DREAM TEENS

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