Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

17. Stephanie Rice

Age: 20

Stephanie Rice is finding out what life can be like in an Olympic year when you're both a world-class swimmer and world-class swimsuit model. The Queenslander will arrive in Beijing as the main threat to the American super-fish Katie Hoff in two events. In March, Rice grabbed the world record in both the 200m and 400m individual medleys; Hoff set a new mark in the latter at the recent U.S. trials in Nebraska. Away from the pool, Rice has dabbled in modeling and clearly prefers partying to knitting. She's Australian, mate. In April, Facebook photos of her unwinding in a tight-fitting version of a police uniform were deemed inappropriate by Swimming Australia. Those who know Rice laugh off tabloid descriptions of her as raunchy. "She's thoughtful and not the least bit full of herself," says manager Lisa Stallard. The swimmer's approach to training is a touch obsessive-compulsive. "I set very high expectations for myself," says Rice. After her feats in March, "I'd be disappointed with anything less than Olympic gold."