14 > SWIMMER > New York City
Lia broke three national age-group records as a 10-year-old, and at the 2009 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Guam she set the U.S. mark for 13-year-olds in the 50-meter freestyle (25.82). Her time of 56.87 in the 100 free in January '08 broke the U-12 U.S. record—one that had stood for 23 years—by 1.30 seconds.
Natalie Coughlin. Though Coughlin is primarily a backstroker, both are fierce competitors. "The focus Lia is able to summon when the gun goes off is like Natalie's," says AGUA swim club coach Brian Brown. "In a race she shows much more than you see day to day."
"In swimming we'd say Lia has what it takes to get her hand on the wall first," Brown says. "She's really powerful and aggressive when she gets into the water."
At the world championship trials in Indianapolis this week, Lia will try to qualify in the 50 and 100 free, the same races she swam at last year's Olympic trials. A freshman at Covenant of the Sacred Heart, she's also working on her butterfly to increase her chances of qualifying for the 2012 Games.
16 > TRIATHLETE > New Lenox, Ill.
In March, as a freshman, he broke the national indoor 5K record for high school runners with a 14:18.42 at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston, but his passion isn't limited to track. The Lithuanian-born sophomore at Carl Sandburg High is a sprint-distance triathlete at heart. At the youth elite nationals triathlon in Colorado Springs last August, Lukas came in a full minute ahead of the second-place finisher, and in April he won gold at the Pan Am Junior Championships with a time of 58:03.
Steve Prefontaine. "Like [Prefontaine], I like to run in the front, not the back," Lukas says.
"I'm not impressed by much, but he's absolutely amazing," says John Chaplin, the 2000 U.S. Olympic coach, who thinks Verzbicas's best events are the 5K and 10K. "If he stays in track, he'll rewrite everything in America."
Lukas will compete at the World Junior Championships in Australia this September in the sprint triathlon. "I just want to make it to the 2012 Olympics [as a triathlete]," says Lukas. "But in 2016 I think I can win."