Team USA Director Frank Busch and the head coaches for men and women, Gregg Troy and Teri McKeever, met media this morning ahead of the last session of finals at US Trials in Omaha this evening. The prospects of the aquatic superpower are good, they reckoned after 23 men and 24 women (team list at the foot of this file) put themselves in line for selection to be confirmed by the United States Olympic Committee.
Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and a few others were able to race through without a full taper to make the team this week. If the times on the clock were not as sharp as they will be in London at the end of the month, the closeness of battle between the two makes for great entertainment.
Sell-out crowds of between 12,000 and 14,500 each evening, with more than 7,000 in the house for long morning sessions, combined with TV viewing figures of 5m for finals to confirm popularity. The TV ratings being reported here offer a realistic count that reflected numbers prepared to sit and watch whole races through finals - and contrast starkly with dubious counts of 100s of millions for sports events that base the numbers of any who might have caught a fleeting glimpse of the end of a Phelps race on the news.
In terms of how efforts here in Omaha translate to the big show coming up in London, things are looking good for the US. Paper exercises count for nothing when the gun goes off but here are some facts and figures from the Century Link Convention Center on the way to July 28, the first day of racing at the Olympic Games:
Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte all have a possible seven events to go for. Other women have raced in seven events but Franklin, 17, is the first in swimming history to take on seven events in which she has a strong chance of a medal in each one. The 4x200m freestyle was added to the Olympic programme in 1988.
Five swims were the best we've ever seen in textile suits:
The US occupies 63 places in the top 10 across all 26 solo Olympic events, just shy of a quarter of all places possible, with 34 men in the mix and 29 women. In the detail:
Among men, US has (with podium potential in mind):
Among women, US has (with podium potential in mind):
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Head men's coach Gregg Troy summed up the task ahead when he noted: "We know where we're at. We have 21 great days planned for them [the team] and we'll respond really well."
Teri McKeever, women's head coach, was positive too: "I'm excited about the way the team has unfolded. The rest of the world is looking at how fast we're swimming. There are great possibilities to get better and we can focus on."
Did Troy feel that, with a nod to the leading strength of Phelps and Lochte, the US team would embrace of temper the expectations of "fans"? "I think we embrace them. Its good for the sport and the athletes. On the other hand, those fans need to understand that there are other guys in the world that are really good. Michael and Ryan are aware of those challenges."
The US is alone in having a tight turnaround between trials and Games but McKeever noted that everyone had had four years to prepare their plans on that basis.
Busch added: "Fortunately for us, the head coaches and staff have had dry runs with this same kind of schedule in [the college season]" with SECs and NCAAs three weeks apart."
Team was the other factor. "American kids understand American teams and have a concept of what that means," said Busch. "The world sacrifice to them is a badge of honour … to unite them is something we will work on but is something they understand going in."
McKeever concluded: "There's an expectation of every coach and every athlete … they have a vision of how to get better in the next 26 days."
The US London 2012 team after trials:
Coaching staff name so far: