OMAHA, NEB. -- Five O.C. swimmers to watch at the U.S. Olympic Trials:
Tom Shields: The Kellogg’s cereal box cover boy appears headed toward a showdown with Michael Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly but also watch for the Edison graduate in the 200 butterfly. Shields’ underwater streamlines might be the best in Omaha.
Jessica Hardy: The Golden West Swim Club veteran made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team by capturing the 50 and 100-meter freestyles. But the pride of Long Beach Wilson has always been a breaststroker at heart and badly wants to qualify for Rio in the 100 breast.
Katie McLaughlin: The U.S. national teamer could emerge as one of the inspirational stories if she qualifies for Rio after fracturing two vertebrae in her neck in January. The challenge might prove too much but the Nadadores’ 18-year-old deserves applause for trying. Just watch her last six strokes in the butterfly.
Ella Eastin: The former Crean Lutheran star exploded during her freshman year at Stanford, setting the American record in the 200-yard individual medley at 1:51.65. Look for the SOCAL club swimmer to contend in the 200- and 400-meter individual medley.
Grant Shoults: The O.C. Register male athlete of the year broke two national high school records for Santa Margarita in the spring but now faces bigger, stronger and older competitors. But the 19-year-old loves challenges and could reach a final or two.