All-Time USA Lineup: Not An Easy Roster to Crack
Now that the World Junior Championships have concluded and with another month to go before the resumption of the FINA World Cup Series, it is a relatively slow time in the sport. As a result, it seemed like a good time to cruise through history and put together a lineup for the best all-time squad the United States could send into international competition. Like the Olympic Games and World Championships, only two entries are allowed in each event.
Some events were easier to select than others and there will certainly be disagreements, or question marks. We urge our readership to offer commentary and also – if motivated – to generate a list for other countries. This could be an enjoyable exercise, and we’ll generate a women’s all-time team in the coming days.
Gary Hall Jr.
Commentary: As a two-time Olympic champion, Gary Hall Jr. was a slam-dunk selection. Anthony Ervin earned the other nod as an Olympic titlist and due to his career resurgence, but Matt Biondi and Tom Jager received consideration.
Commentary: The 1924 and 1928 Olympic champion, Johnny Weissmuller was the biggest star of the early days of the sport. The No. 2 pick went to Matt Biondi, the 1988 Olympic champ and world-record holder for nearly nine years. Knocking on the door were two-time Olympic titlist Duke Kahanamoku, Mark Spitz and Jim Montgomery, the first man to break the 50-second barrier.
Commentary: The selection of Michael Phelps was a no-brainer. For the second position, Don Schollander is the choice. Although he was edged in the event at the 1968 Olympics, he set 11 world records between 1962 and 1968, and the lack of the 200 freestyle at the 1964 Games denied Schollander what would have been a superb chance at gold. Consideration also went to Mark Spitz and Bruce Furniss.
Commentary: Going with Don Schollander, the 1964 Olympic champion, was relatively easy. The decision for the second spot was more difficult, but ultimately went to 1976 Olympic champ Brian Goodell over Tim Shaw.
Commentary: Mike Burton doubled as Olympic champion in 1968 and 1972 while Brian Goodell followed as the Olympic gold medalist in 1976, punctuating that victory with a world record. This event was fairly easy to pick.
Commentary: Six world records and back-to-back Olympic titles in 2004 and 2008 made Aaron Peirsol a no-brainer. Adolph Kiefer was eons ahead of his time, giving the 1936 Olympic champ the second spot in a narrow decision over John Naber.
Commentary: This was far from an easy event to sort through, with three guys battling for the two berths. Aaron Peirsol earned the first slot based on medals in three Olympiads and seven world records. John Naber, the 1976 Olympic champ and world-record holder for seven years, clipped Ryan Lochte for the second position.
Commentary: Another event where three guys pursued the two openings. John Hencken was the first choice, thanks to Olympic gold in 1976 and bronze four years earlier. Although he never earned individual Olympic gold, Brendan Hansen’s longevity and two individual Olympic medals gave him the second spot ahead of Steve Lundquist.
Commentary: As he stormed to Olympic gold at the 1992 Games, Mike Barrowman revolutionized the event, holding the world record for more than a decade. John Hencken was the Olympic champ in 1972, followed with silver in 1976 and set five world records. Brendan Hansen filed into the third spot.
Commentary: Three consecutive Olympic gold medals sealed this one for Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian in history. Mark Spitz, the man Phelps surpassed in swimming lore, was the lock for the No. 2 position, thanks to an Olympic title in 1972 and silver in 1968.
Commentary: Between Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz, forever linked, they established 15 world records. This event definitely was one of the simpler disciplines to determine.
200 Individual Medley
Commentary: This is another event in which Michael Phelps won three straight Olympic gold medals, all at the expense of Ryan Lochte. However, Lochte’s silver medals in 2008 and 2012, along with his bronze in 2004, made him the easy pick to join Phelps on the starting block. A pair of world records also played in Lochte’s favor.
400 Individual Medley
Commentary: That Michael Phelps guy is present in a fifth event, which isn’t much of a surprise considering his career dominance and legacy. His inclusion here is thanks to a pair of Olympic titles and eight world records. He’s joined by Tom Dolan, another two-time Olympic champion and the world-record holder from 1994-2002.
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