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Natalie Coughlin

Natalie Coughlin

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Home�>� Articles �>� Features �>� 2009 Worlds Rome Preview: Swimmers to Keep an Eye On By: Andrew Silver, Sr EditorPosted: 07/19/09 1359 Views 1 CommentsTags: Bob, Schaller, Rome, World, Championships, Michael, Phelps, Dara, TorresRating: Sign in or register to rate.

By Bob Schaller // Senior WriterComing out of Beijing, swimming was the hottest ticket outside of the major sports loop.Michael Phelps drew the media's attention to the sport, Beijing put on a memorable Games, Natalie Coughlin won a half-dozen medals, Dara Torres slew Father Time, and Aaron Peirsol was as amazing as...

well, as amazing as Aaron has always been, and continues to be.

I still think Jason Lezak's relay heroics â€" under those circumstances, and the fact that the Reaper closes in one swimming careers at that age â€" did not get as much attention as it might have deserved, but he still helped grow the sport.Despite the suit controversy not going away and Phelps not staying far enough away from trouble at times, swimming is still riding high.�What does the sport that seems to have everything going for it right now do for an encore?It takes the greatest show in the water across the pond and to points beyond.Hello, Rome.While the meet will get attention for some of the right reasons, most of the mainstream media attention will focus on the suits.

Of course, every time Phelps hits the water it will make the ESPN Bottom Line ticker.Though this seems like just another post-Olympic year meet, Worlds this year has a lot of burning questions that will arise, and probably be answered.First of all, while I am a Dara Torres fan, at some point she will start to slow down and the years will get the best of her.

It might not be at this meet â€" and I hope it's not during this quadrennial â€" but the reality is we need to enjoy Torres every time she hits the wall, because another wall is coming.

Second, we're going to see who can challenge Phelps.

He has the so-called target on his back, but there are going to be one or two â€" or even three or four â€" challengers for him starting in Rome and running through London.

The odds would seem to favor something catching him, that he'll have to "settle" for a silver or, gasp, bronze at some point.

But you know what? It'll be fun to see who had the courage to step up and try to clear the bar Michael has set at stratospheric levels.Third, though it's hard to imagine that Dagny Knutson and Ariana Kukors didn't qualify for individual events â€" though Kukors gets Pelton's place in the 200 IM because of a scheduling conflict â€" it'll be interesting to see how they do.Fourth, seeing how Elizabeth Pelton â€" and the other young stars â€" do will be interesting.

Did they leave it all in the pool in Indy, or are they going to keep that taper through Rome? That's tough to do, especially at such a big meet.

But the development of young talent is exciting, especially on the women's side.Another great story is Davis Tarwater.

All but a lock to make the 2008 Olympic team, Gil Stovall caught Davis at Trials.

Davis coming back just to make this team tells you all about his character that you need to know, but to see him medal would be great.Elizabeth Beisel will be exciting to watch â€" her continued development is great for the women's team, and USA Swimming.

Ryan Lochte on the men's side has become one of the faces of the sport, not just in the U.S., but to the world.But my heart will beat fastest when Eric Shanteau takes center stage.

He followed up a life-threatening situation last year by only getting more focused, stronger and becoming a superstar in the sport.

To see him step on a podium or two would just be out of this world.
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