Who'll Reign, Phelps or Lochte?
In this corner we have Michael Phelps, the 16-time Olympic medalist and 14-time world champion heading into his final Games at age 26. In that corner we have Ryan Lochte, 27, the six-time Olympic medalist who outperformed Phelps at last summer's worlds in Shanghai, winning five golds and a bronze. How they fare head-to-head in the 200 IM, 200 freestyle and possibly 400 IM at the trials in Omaha will determine who will be the man to beat in London.
Who'll Reign, Coughlin or Franklin?
In this corner we have Natalie Coughlin, the 11-time Olympic medalist and winner of the 100 back at the last two Games, likely heading into her final Olympics at age 29. In that corner we have Missy (the Missile) Franklin, the 17-year-old who stole the spotlight at the 2011 worlds, earning five medals, including three gold. How they fare head-to-head in the 100 back and possibly the 200 back and 100 free will determine who will be the woman to beat in London.
Can Dara Do It Again?
Four years ago Dara Torres, then 41, became the oldest female Olympic swimmer ever and the first to make five U.S. Olympic teams. At trials the 12-time Games medalist could become the oldest Olympic swimmer of either gender if she again qualifies in the 50 free, an event in which she took silver in Beijing.
Will Felix Double Dip?
Though she is one of the best sprinters of her generation, Allyson Felix does not have an individual Olympic gold. The quest would be easier for the eight-time world champ if she stuck to the 200 meters, her best event. But she won a silver in the 400 at the 2011 worlds in Daegu, South Korea, and last month in Doha, Qatar, ran the 100 in 10.92 seconds, the third best time in the world this year.
Can Gay Hold Up?
At his best the oft-injured Tyson Gay can push Jamaican stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake in the 100 meters, but he was sidelined for 11 months following hip surgery last July and hasn't broken 10 seconds this year.
Will the Hurdle Champ Stumble?
Jason Richardson is the world champion in the 110-meter hurdles but has only the fourth-best time (13.16) among Americans in 2012. Count world indoor champ Aries Merritt, Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver and Dexter Faulk among those who will try to deny Richardson a place on the team.
Is the Old Guard Gone?
Will any decorated veterans make the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the trials in San Jose? Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone, Rebecca Bross and Bridget Sloan have won multiple medals at major competitions, but a deep stable of newbies will make the July 1 decision by the three-person selection panel difficult.
Is Horton Ready?
U.S. hopes for a team gymnastics medal in London will rise if Jonathan Horton, the squad's most experienced competitor, at 26, is recovered from the injuries (a torn ligament and two broken bones in his left foot) that he competed through at the 2011 world championships, where the U.S. finished third.
Who'll Be a Breakout Star?
Among the new faces to watch are gymnast Gabby Douglas, who could challenge world all-around champion Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman for the team's top spot; swimming phenom Katie Ledecky, the high school freshman who ranks in the top three nationally in the 400 and 800 free; and LSU sprinter Kimberlyn Duncan, who this month won the NCAA 200 in 22.19.
BIG GUNS While Lochte (left) and Phelps duel, Horton (bottom) will test his fitness.
PETER READ MILLER
[See caption above]