Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will feature 17 men's swimming events, which will take place between Saturday, July 28 and Saturday, Aug. 4. Sixteen of the races will be held in a 50-meter (54.68 yard) long by 25-meter (27.34 yard) wide swimming pool in the Aquatics Center, located in the Olympic Park. The 10-kilometer (6.21 mile) marathon swimming competition will take place at Hyde Park.
Athletes in these events will compete against each other at various distances. Depending on the type of race, the competitors will propel themselves forward by using one of four strokes--the front crawl, the backstroke, the breaststroke, or the butterfly (both arms are flung forward). "The first athlete to touch the electronic finishing touchpad at the end of the pool [(or cross the finish line in the 10K event)] in each race is the winner."
Here is a brief description of each of the 17 men's events that will take place at the 2012 London Olympic Games. All of the information comes from the London Olympics' official website, unless otherwise noted.
50-Meter Freestyle: Per the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), the sport's governing body, athletes can use any stroke to propel themselves 50 meters (one pool length) to the finish line. Nathan Adrian is currently the top American swimmer per Team USA.
100-Meter Freestyle: It is similar to the 50-meter freestyle competition, except that athletes swim for 100 meters (two pool lengths). According to Fox Sports, Nathan Adrian is the best American swimmer.
200-Meter Freestyle: It is twice as long as the 100-meter freestyle competition but otherwise the same. Per NBC, Ryan Lochte is the top U.S. swimmer.
400-Meter Freestyle: It is the second longest freestyle race. Athletes will swim 400 meters (eight pool lengths). Reach for the Wall (a site maintained by The Washington Post) asserts that Peter Vanderkaay is the best American swimmer.
1,500-Meter Freestyle: It is the longest freestyle event, requiring athletes to swim the length of the pool 30 times. Per an Associated Press article, Chad La Tourette is currently the best American swimmer.
100-Meter Backstroke: Competitors use the backstroke to propel themselves 100 meters (2 pool lengths). Per information in the Omaha World-Herald, David Plummer is the top U.S. swimmer.
200-Meter Backstroke: This event is similar to the 100-meter backstroke, except that competitors swim four pool lengths. Per NBC, Ryan Lochte is the best American swimmer.
100-Meter Breaststroke: Swimmers use a breaststroke motion to move 100 meters (2 pool lengths). Reach for the Wall claims that Brendan Hansen is the best American swimmer.
200-Meter Breaststroke: This event is identical to the 100-meter breaststroke, except that swimmers travel 200 meters (4 pool lengths). Per The Statesman, Eric Shanteau is the best American swimmer.
100-Meter Butterfly: Athletes use a butterfly technique to swim 100 meters (two pool lengths). Per NBC, Michael Phelps is the top American swimmer.
200-Meter Butterfly: The event is identical to the 100-meter butterfly except that athletes swim for 200 meters (four pool lengths). NBC pegs Michael Phelps as the leader among American swimmers.
200 Meter Individual Medley: Per FINA, "the swimmer covers the four swimming strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle [(front crawl)]. Each of the strokes must cover one quarter (1/4) of the distance." In this case, an athlete will switch swimming styles after each pool length. According to Time, Ryan Lochte is the top U.S. swimmer.
400-Meter Individual Medley: This event is identical to the 200-meter individual medley, except that each athlete will swim eight pool lengths. Per Time, Ryan Lochte is the best American swimmer.
4X100 Freestyle Relay: The event pits teams of four swimmers who will each go 100 meters (two pool lengths). Per FINA, the athletes can use any swimming style to propel themselves through the water.
4X200 Freestyle Relay: This race is similar to the 4X100 freestyle relay, except that each athlete swims for 200 meters (4 pool lengths).
4X100 Medley Relay: The event pits teams of four swimmers who will each go 100 meters (two pool lengths). Per Sports Illustrated, the first athlete will use a backstroke. The second swimmer must utilize a breaststroke. The third competitor will use the butterfly technique. The final teammate will use a front crawl stroke.
10-Kilometer Marathon: Per Swimming World, athletes will swim around a 1.65 kilometer (1.03 mile) race course six times. According to USA Swimming, Alex Meyer is the top American swimmer in this event.
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The author is a freelance writer who happens to be an avid sports fan. He is not affiliated with any Olympic organizations or swimming teams.