54 Pac-12 athletes will be swimming the breast, back, butterfly, free, IM and relays in London’s Olympic Park Aquatics Centre and Hyde Park come July 28 through August 4. There are too many swimmers to tackle, but here are the primary contenders to get to the medal stand in London.
We start with the main men.
Nathan Adrian, a recent Cal graduate, qualified for the Olympic team by finishing first in the 100m free. He’ll be racing in the 100 free, 400 free relay and 400 medley relay. In the 2008 Olympics, Adrian won gold in the 400m free relay, setting a personal record, and since then he’s earned a whole lot of accolades. Just to name a few, at the 2011 FINA World Championships he earned gold in the 4x100m medley relay and bronze in the 4x100m free relay. He placed fourth in the 50m free and sixth in the 100m free. At the 2011 Conoco Phillips National Championships he won the 50m free. At the 2011 Winter U.S. Nationals he won gold in the 50m free and 100m free. At the 2011 NCAA’s he won the 50-yard free, the 100-yard free and took eighth in the 100-yard fly.
Anthony Ervin (Cal) isn’t making a "comeback" in London but rather he’s coming back to competitive swimming, set to race in the 50m free. He won gold in the 50m free and silver in the 4x100m free relay in the 2000 Sydney Games at the age of 19 and won gold again in the 100 and 50m free in the 2001 World Championships. But then Ervin decided not to compete in the 2004 Games. After swimming four years at Cal, he moved to New York City without a degree and spent time playing guitar in bands. Eventually though, he did get back to swimming by teaching kids. Then he returned to Cal, earned his English degree in 2010 while coaching kids and started to competitively swim again.
Coming off of 2010 back surgery, 28-year-old Milorad Cavic (Cal) will be competing in the 100 fly in his fourth straight Olympic Games. He grew up in the U.S. but swims for Serbia. In his last go-around, he almost spoiled Michael Phelps’s eight-medal outcome after appearing to have won to 100m butterfly, Phelps’ final individual event. But, Phelps out-touched Cavic by 0.01 seconds. At the 2009 World Championships, the two had a very similar swim. Cavic held the early lead before Phelps won by a margin of 0.13 seconds. At the 2008 European Championships Cavic won the non-Olympic 50m fly in European record time and at the 2007 World Championships he was sixth in the 100m fly.
Markus Rogan was born in Austria, grew up in Virginia and swam for Stanford from 2000-04. He’s back for his fourth consecutive Olympics and he’ll be representing Austria. In 2000, as an 18-year-old freshman, he placed 27th in the 200 back and 33rd in the 100 back. At the 2004 Athens Olympics he earned silver in both events, but in Beijing he placed just out of medal contention in fourth in the 200 back and ninth in the 100 back. After a year of retirement following the 2008 Olympics, Rogan competed at the 2009 World Championships, although he didn’t qualify. At the 2010 European Championships, Rogan earned silver in the 200m IM.
Swimming since the age of four, Nick Thoman (Arizona) qualified for the 2012 Olympics by taking second in the 100m back. He won gold as part of the 400m medley relay at the 2011 FINA World Championships and also placed fourth in the 100m back and sixth in the 50m back. At the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships, Thoman earned second in the 100m back and third in the 200m back. He earned gold in the 400m medley relay, setting a world record, at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships. He was a three-time All American in 2005-06, swam the first leg of the winning 400 medley relay at the 2006 NCAA Championships and earned second in the 200 back at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships.
Kenya's Jason Dunford (Stanford) was the first Kenyan to swim in an Olympic final in 2008, where he placed fifth in the 100m fly. In 2006 he also made history by winning Kenya's first major international swimming gold medal (100m fly) at the African Championships. Dunford was named Overall Men's Swimmer of the Year at the 2011 All-Africa Games and in 2007 won the Safaricom Kenyan Sportsman of the Year Award and was voted Kenya's Sportsman of the Year. At the 2011 World Championships he finished fourth in the 100m fly and seventh in the 50m fly. In 2009 he took sixth in both the 50m and 100m fly. At the 2010 World Championships Short Course, Dunford placed seventh in the 100m fly.
The first South African to win three medals at an Olympic Games and the current world record-holder in the short-course 50m free (20.30), Roland Schoeman (Arizona) is competing in his fourth straight Olympics – he’ll be swimming in the 50m free. In 2008 he took seventh in both the 50m free and the 4x100m free relay, in 2004 he won gold in the 4x100m free relay, silver in the 100m free and bronze in the 50m free, and in 2000 he reached the semifinals in the 50m and 100m free. Schoeman has also won three gold medals at the World Championships (2007: 50m butterfly; 2005: 50m fly, 50m free), one silver (2005: 100m free) and one bronze (2001: 50m free). He also placed fifth (2009: 4x100m free relay) and reached the semifinals in 2011 and 2009. He was awarded the 2009 Times Newspaper South African Athlete of the Decade, the 2009 University of Pretoria Sportsman of the Year, the 2007 Presidential Order of Ikhamanga in silver for his achievements in swimming, won the Swimming South Africa Athlete of the Year from 2004-07, was named Swimming World Magazine’s African Swimmer of the Year from 2004-07, was inducted into the 2007 Arizona Hall of Fame and the University of Pretoria Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dominik Meichtry (Cal) holds six Swiss national records in the long and short courses. He’s won 31 individual Swiss national medals; 25 gold and six silver, so he’ll be a contender when he races in the 100, 200 and 400 free and the 100 fly in London. He competed for Swiss at the 2004 Athens Olympics, placing seventh in the semi’s of the 200m free. While at Cal, Meichtry was an All-American, the 2007 NCAA runner-up in the 200 free, the 2007 Pac-10 Champion in the 200 free, earned third in the 200 free and eighth in the 500 free at the 2006 NCAA Championships, was named the 2005 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year and holds a few second-best records in the Cal books.
Ous Mellouli (USC) is the only Tunisian to win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – he won gold in the 1500m free – and is just the second Tunisian gold medalist ever. In the 2004 Olympics he placed fifth in the 400 IM and set an African record. He won gold, silver and two bronze at the 2010 World Championships and had also medaled in the Mediterranean Games and the Pan-Arab Games. At the age of 15, he moved away from his family to France to attend high school and swim. Then he came to America in 2002 when he was 18 and in 2007 graduated from USC with a bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. He’s set to race in the 200, 400 and 1500m free and the 10k open swim.
Clark Burckle (Arizona) finished second in the 200m breast at the Olympic Trials, completing an upset over favorites Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen. Burckle out-touched Shanteau by .08 seconds. The 2010 NCAA champion in the 200 breast was third in the 200m breast at last year’s nationals and was a silver medalist at the Pan-American Games in Mexico.