We have now seen Olympic Trials in the majority of leading swimming nations, with Germany's trials still to come May 9 - 14. There will be some noteworthy swimming events coming up over the next couple of months, but in terms of Olympic selection the attention will soon shift firmly to the US trials in Omaha in late June.
As hard as it is to say as a non-American, I can't help but feel like the Olympic trials so far in the other nations have been a support act for the main headliner... and in true rock star style, they are making us wait.
Here is a breakdown of where I see the US standing in each event, and how their stock has risen /taken a fall or stayed the same = since Shanghai. This time we take a look at the Butterfly events.
Men Big win so far for the Americans in the 100m Fly this year. Michael Phelps was always likely to head to London as the favourite, but the rest of the world haven't shown any kind of form that will scare Phelps. World silver medalist Konrad Czerniak, 52.07 this year, hasn't been able to get close to his 2011 best of 51.15. Milorad Cavic, who might still represent the biggest threat to Phelps, swam 52.21 as a guest at the Olympic pool in March. Australia's Christopher Wright leads the world in 2012 with 51.67. At 23 years old Wright stands a decent chance of dropping more time in London, but it will be tough for him to get down to the 50-point it will require to get close to Phelps. Tyler McGill, or whoever else takes the second US spot, has a strong chance of making the 100m Fly a US 1-2, or at least repeating the 1-3 from Shanghai.
Women = The status of the women's 100m Fly has stayed largely the same for the US. After her 56.47 textile best time in Shanghai, Dana Vollmer became the heavy favourite for gold in London and that has not changed. What has changed is that one of Vollmer's main competitors Sarah Sjostrom has closed the gap with her 56.79 swim this year. Britain's Ellen Gandy (57.25 this year) and Fran Halsall (57.56) have opposite strengths with Halsall's searing early speed and Gandy's stamina, but if both get their races right they have a chance. Alicia Coutts is slower at this point of the year than last year which is slightly worrying for Australia, but she has shown over the last few years that she can rise to the occasion at major competitions. Lu Ying is also down on her best time from last year but is safely in the mid-57 range. The second US spot looks likely to be heading to one of Natalie Coughlin, Christine Magnuson or Claire Donahue.
Men Another positive event so far this year for the US men. A number of darkhorses haven't shown the development expected from them so far in 2012. Hungary's Bence Biczo, a 1:54.79 swimmer last year hasn't cracked the 1:56 barrier yet. Chad Le Clos has swum 1:55.30 this year but will likely still need to find a second and a half to be in contention for a medal. Takeshi Matsuda remains the biggest threat to Phelps and he matched his best time in 2011 of 1:54.01 at Japanese trials. The only other man to have broken 1:55 this year is Nick D'Arcy who will certainly be in the medal hunt, but it would take a brave man to bet on him (or anyone) beating Phelps in his pet event. The stage could be set for a second American to get on the podium, whether that is Tyler Clary, Bobby Bollier or A.N.Other.
Women = The US have been boosted by the emergence of Camille Adams and her 2:06.76 untapered swim in January. It remains to be seen what level of improvement Adams can progress to, but it gives the US women a much needed shot in the arm in this event. Despite having two swimmers in the semi-final at Worlds, the US failed to get a swimmer into the final. The job isn't getting any easier either with the leap forward Japan's Natsumi Hoshi has made this year, taking her time down to 2:04.69 and joining Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang on textile 2:04s. Ellen Gandy and Jemma Lowe are safely qualified and will have the home crowd support. Other threats will come from Zsu Jakabos, Mireia Belmonte, Jess Schipper and Katinka Hosszu. It still looks like an uphill battle for USA to medal in this one.