For the first, and only, time of these Olympics a morning session at the Water Cube will not feature a Michael Phelps final. But, fear not neophyte swim fans, there will be four gold medal finals tonight. The lineup includes a return to the pool for Frenchman Alain Bernard, last seen by viewers blowing a nearly-insurmountable lead in the 4x100 freestyle relay. Oh, and for those fearful of a Phelps withdrawal tonight; he swims in the 200m IM semifinals at 11:10 p.m. ET.
Men's 200m breaststroke:
This race was supposed to feature a rematch between defending gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima and American Brendan Hansen, but Hansen's failure to qualify for the U.S. team in this event put a crimp in those plans. It's probably just as well though; Hansen has been swimming poorly all year while Kitajima seems to be in the prime of his career. Look for the Japanese sensation to become the first man to ever successfully defend his 100m and 200m breaststroke crowns at the Games and lower his own world record in the process.
Prediction: Kitajima (JPN)
Women's 200m butterfly:
China's best chances for swimming gold come in this event with Zige Liu and Liuyang Jiao seeded first and third, respectively. They'll have to contend with the current and former world record holders, as well as two Americans in what is, arguably, the least-marquee event on the swimming slate. It might be one of the closest too; the best times of the first and last seeds are only .71 seconds apart.
Prediction: Schipper (AUS)
Men's 100m freestyle:
Not only did French relay goat Alain Bernard have to deal with blowing the lead in the 4x100 relay, but his world record in the 100 freestyle was bested in the same race by Australia's Eamon Sullivan (swimmers who lead off a relay are eligible to set world records). A game of keep-away has ensued, with Bernard taking the record back in the semis of this event, only to see Sullivan snatch it away again two minutes later. The two face-off tonight in the most anticipated Phelps-less race on the men's schedule. American Jason Lezak, who caught Bernard in the now-famous 4x100 relay, is also in the field but isn't expected to contend for a gold.
Prediction: Sullivan (AUS)
Women's 4x200m freestyle relay
The American women have never lost this event in Olympic competition, a streak that will be continued tonight. Katie Hoff will finally get her first gold medal, but surely not in the way she expected.
Prediction: United States
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