Phelps leads newcomers on road to Rio

Tue Jul 5, 2016 9:27am EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Michael Phelps, one of the world's most recognizable athletes, will lead a crop of new faces to Rio as a week of ruthless competition at the U.S. Olympic trials ended on Sunday and shifted the focus to the Summer Games pool.

Phelps and old foe Ryan Lochte, the 31-year-old pillars of U.S. swimming who between them have amassed 33 Olympic medals, will again provide the foundation for a 45-member squad that will be a mix of experience and youth.

At one end of the spectrum are Phelps, who will compete in his fifth Games and Lochte his fourth. At the other extreme are 30 Olympic newcomers.

Out, are Olympic champions, Tyler Clary, Matt Grevers, Cullen Jones and Natalie Coughlin.

In, are a wave of first time Olympians, including Maya DiRado who qualified in three events.

"Going forward we are going to have to step up to a new level and we will see some new faces step up at the top," said Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach who will also be in charge to the U.S. men's team in Rio.

"We have our tried-and-true guys and I think with Michael and Ryan we're going to be able to count on them but it's going to be very exciting to have a new group of guys step up ... and kind of take us into the next era of swimming."

Swimmers arrived in Omaha declaring the pressure of the U.S. trials was far greater than anything they face at an Olympics but monstrous expectations will weigh heavily in Rio where the stage is bigger, the spotlight brighter and the competition tougher.   Continued...

Michael Phelps during the men's 100m butterfly finals in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports