Ending days of uncertainty, the much-anticipated US Olympic Trials are finally set to get underway on June 4 and continue until June 27. The excitement around the event has already gained momentum, despite COVID-19 concerns.
The country's top swimmers will set foot and fight it out for a spot in the team that will represent the United States at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The first set of swimming trials will be held between June 4-7, while the second will kick off on June 13 and continue till June 20.
On that note, let's take a look at the top five men's swimming events at the US Olympic Trials to watch out for:
#1 100m freestyle
There is little doubt that Caeleb Dressel will be up against a strong 100m freestyle field, but his recent performances make him a favourite.
He is a two-time Olympic champion, 13-time world champion, two-time world record holder (in 100m butterfly long course and 50m freestyle short course) and 10-time NCAA champion. He has been Team USA's top freestyle swimmer since 2017.
Meanwhile, months after battling cancer, London Olympics gold medalist Nathan Adrian will return to competitive action seeking for a third appearance in the quadrennial competition. Another hopeful, Ryan Held, who was part of the USA gold medal-winning 400m freestyle relay team in Rio de Janeiro, will battle for an individual spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
Others like Blake Pieroni, Zach Apple, Tate Jackson, Maxime Rooney, Dean Farris, Brooks Curry and Drew Kibler are among others who are expected to put on a good show at the US Olympic trials.
#2 100m backstroke
American dominance in the 100m backstroke event has long served as a springboard for the country's magnificent swimming exploits at the Olympics. The country's male swimmers have maintained their stranglehold on the event, racking up medals at every Olympic edition since 1936.
Ryan Murphy, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the event, will spearhead the men's 100m backstroke challenge at the US Olympic trials. He will look to shrug off his demoralising 2019 campaign and will look to go the extra mile to seal a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
Much like Murphy, six-time Olympic medalist Matt Grevers bounced back with a second-place finish at the 2017 World Championships after missing out on a Rio Olympic berth. After demonstrating his mettle in the event, Grevers will look to seal his berth in the Tokyo Olympics.
Meanwhile, his compatriot Shaine Casas created ripples at the 2019 Nationals when he touched the pad in a speedy 52.72s to win the gold. The 21-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down since then. Considering his seamless upward career trajectory, Casas will be a firm favourite to secure his Olympic berth.
#3 200m butterfly
Gianluca Urlando's rise to prominence was nothing short of inspiring, as he broke the legendary Michael Phelps' 16-year-old national age group record in 2019. Urlando has the experience and pedigree to be counted as one of the favourites to seal his Olympic berth at the US Olympic Trials.
Meanwhile, Trenton Julian, a top-ranked American male swimmer this year, will look to continue his fine form at the US Olympic Trials. He registered a personal best mark of 1:55.77s at the recent Atlanta Classic.
Another hopeful, Zach Harting, has been one of the most consistent performers in the 200m butterfly over the last three years. He will look to continue that form in the US Olympic Trials.
Tom Shields, who holds the short-course American record in the 200m butterfly, will also look to seal his Tokyo Olympic berth.
#4 200m individual medley
Ryan Lochte, the name, says it all. All eyes will be on the 12-time Olympic medalist when he takes on the pool in the US Olympic Trials for the 200m individual medley event.
The event promises to be intense and fierce, as the likes of Lochte, Chase Kalisz, Michael Andrew and Carson Foster will compete for a spot in the US Olympic team.
Others like Sam Stewart, Abrahm Devine and Andrew Seliskar are also expected to prove their mettle and seal their Tokyo Olympic berths at the trials.
#5 800m freestyle
The men's 800m freestyle will be one of the most interesting events at the US Olympic Trials. For the first time since 1904, the event will make a return to the Olympics this year.
Zane Grothe, Bobby Finke and Jordan Wilimovsky are standouts in the event and are expected to vie for the top spot. Meanwhile, 400m freestyle swimmers will have a realistic chance of springing a surprise in the 800m freestyle event.