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US sprinters well off Magnussen, Roberts

2 July 2012

Australia's men are perfectly placed to end a 12-year drought in the 4x100m freestyle relay in London after America's top sprinters failed to make any great inroads at their Olympic swimming trials.

Nathan Adrian took out the men's 100m freestyle final at the US trials in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, with his winning time of 48.10 seconds vaulting him to fourth in the individual world rankings.

But America's top sprint hope remains a full second behind Australian world champion James Magnussen's best time of 47.10, a remarkable difference in an event where the smallest margins matter.

With the US winning the sprint relay in Beijing four years ago, the Magnussen-led Australian team has set its sights on a first gold in the event since the famous victory in Sydney 2000, led by Ian Thorpe and Michael Klim.

And with James Roberts (47.63) still ranked a clear second in the world, it looks unlikely the US or French can turn the tables after Australia's win at last year's world championships in Shanghai.

Based on each nation's best individual times this year following the US race, Australia's sprint team of Magnussen, Roberts, Matt Targett and Eamon Sullivan is rated almost two seconds quicker than the French, with the US just behind.

The US's hopes could ride on superstar Michael Phelps, who will likely feature in the relay and is capable of cracking 48 seconds.

With the US trials among the last in the world before the Games, Magnussen and Roberts are looking a strong hope of a one-two finish in the individual 100m in London.

No other swimmer has broken the 48-second barrier this year, with Frenchman Yannick Agnel (48.02) coming closest.

Asked if he was any hope of closing in on Magnussen's time Adrian said: "I don't know. I think it can be faster, but to put a numerical value at this point would be nothing."

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin have been the stars of the US Swim Trials with all set for huge programs at London.

Liam FitzGibbon
AAP

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