July 28 marks the first official day of competition at the 2012 Olympics in London. On the schedule are several swimming heats, including four medal races: the men's 400m IM and 400m Freestyle, and the women's 400m IM and 4x100m Freestyle. Can the ladies of Team USA snag the relay gold?
Natalie Coughlin certainly hopes so. The 29-year-old US swimming team co-captain, who enters the 2012 Games with an impressive 11 Olympic medals to her name, needs just one more piece of hardware to tie Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the country's most decorated female Olympian. Of course, any color medal would get the job done, but no shade is better than gold. Since she failed to qualify for any other events, the relay is truly a make-it-or-break-it swim.
Other swimmers who qualified to take part in the relay include phenom Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, and Allison Schmitt.
Given that the US team enters with the second-fastest qualifying timeÂ—trailing only the Netherlands by .51 secondÂ—a medal of some color seems like a sure thing, but they'll also have to hold off challenges by Germany, Australia, and China. Will they do it? Absolutely. It's just the color of the medal that's up for debate.
Anyone interested in watching the event via livestream on nbcolympics.com should be prepared to get up early: the preliminary swims are set to begin at 4:11 AM PT. The final is scheduled to take place at a more reasonable 12:40 PM PT.