Respect for seniority lies at the heart of the USA team philosophy. In a squad vote at camp in California Olympic champions and world record setters Amanda Beard (Irvine, Calif.) and Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.) are joined by Dara Torres (Los Angeles, Calif.), relay Olympic champion and five-times selected for the Games, as captains of the women, while three-time Olympians Erik Vendt (North Easton, Mass.) and Jason Lezak (Irvine, Calif.) are joined by two-time Olympian and world record holder Brendan Hansen (Havertown, Pa.) lead the men.
The captains have 18 Olympic Games experiences between them and Beard has bared all in Playboy - so, maybe she's got the nerve to face anything.
One of America's strengths is the ability of many in its ranks to fall of the horse and jump straight back on again. As the US team for Beijing settles in to pre-Games bonding mode, a world-record setter in semis who did not make the grade in finals at trials, Hayley McGregory (Austin, Texas), clocked 2:08.42 in the 200m backstroke at the US Open in Minneapolis.
Asked about getting back into the fray so soon after her disappointment, McGregory said: 'You just do it. You don't have a choice. You can sit at home and sulk or you can get back out there and get over it. I just wanted to have a pretty good swim here. Sometimes when you do a second taper, your longer swims can fall apart. I wanted to go a fast time, and even try to go faster than I did at trials.'