Five men’s races to watch at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte
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With 26 events over eight days, there will be plenty to watch at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, starting Sunday on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Here are five men’s events to focus on:

Men’s 200m individual medley – July 1
Michael Phelps touched first in the 200 IM at the past three Olympics. Ryan Lochte owns two Olympic silvers and a bronze from this event. Lochte holds the world record (1:54.00), but Phelps was the world’s top-ranked swimmer in the event in 2015. Phelps has beaten Lochte at the past three U.S. Olympic Trials, yet Lochte has won the event at the past four World Championships (Phelps was present only in 2011, though). The top two Americans at Trials will earn berths in Rio; it’d be shocking to see anyone other than Phelps and Lochte take the spots.

TRIALS: Broadcast ScheduleEntry Lists
PREVIEWS: Men | Women
FIVE KEY RACES: Men | Women

Men’s 50m freestyle – July 2
The fastest event on the docket always brings excitement. Cullen Jones won the silver medal in London, but he’s 32 now and the fifth-best American in the 50 free. The top seed is Nathan Adrian, defending Olympic gold medalist in the 100; he placed third in the 50 at Trials four years ago. The second seed is 19-year-old Caeleb Dressel, who won the 2015 Nationals in 21.53 (which would have given him silver in London). NBC Olympics analyst Rowdy Gaines says Dressel is “just magical to watch in the water.” Hoping to crack the top two will be Anthony Ervin, the 35-year-old who won 50m Olympic gold all the way back in 2000, when Dressel was 4.

Men’s 100m backstroke – June 28
Matt Grevers is the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 backstroke, but he’s no lock to make it to Rio in the event. He’ll be the second seed with a top time of 52.54, behind David Plummer (52.51) and just in front of Ryan Murphy (52.57). Plummer finished runner-up to Grevers at the 2013 Worlds, and along with Murphy is looking to make his Olympic debut.

Men’s 100m butterfly – July 2
Phelps is the reigning national champion, world record holder, and has the fastest time since the beginning of 2015 (50.45), but he’ll be challenged by Tom Shields, the fourth-place finisher at the 2015 Worlds seeking his first Olympics. He’s the owner of the world’s fifth-fastest time since January 2015 (51.03). Jack Conger, a 21-year-old looking to make his Olympic debut, was Phelps’ runner-up at 2015 Nationals (51.33). Then there’s Lochte seeded fifth (51.55), always a guy to keep an eye on.

Men’s 200m breaststroke – June 30
Kevin Cordes, 22, is the fastest American right now, posting a 2:08.54 at the 2015 Worlds to take home silver. That’s the third-fastest time in the world since January 2015, but he went lower (2:07.86) at the 2014 Summer Nationals. Josh Prenot, also 22, clocked in at 2:08.58 earlier this year, good for eighth in the world. And another 22-year-old, Nic Fink, owns the 10th-fastest time at 2:08.89. All of these men are looking for their first trip to the Olympics.