"I've got a feeling that Lochte will win the 400 medley, while Phelps will win the 200 medley.

"But I think they'll both be very close."

The 2012 Olympics in London from July 27 to Aug 12 will see the home fans come out in force to back their favourites, and Foster says the British swimming team, especially the women, will do well.

He said: "British swimming has really undergone a revolution. Our women's team are the second- or third-best team in the world at the moment.

"In Games gone by, we've probably got one woman every four years who may make the final. Nowwe've got probably 10 women who can make the podium."

He credited the extra funding that has gone into the sport and a structured programme for the improvement, rueing the fact that both were absent when he started out.

He said: "When I was younger, if you were good, it was hit or miss whether you were found by the governing body.

"It was about whether you had a swimming pool or a good coach near you then.

But now, if you're good, you get paired up with a good coach locally.

"Within the region, there are also better centres and coaches for the swimmers and a fast-track system to the national team.

"They've got a net out and they'll catch you now."

Foster, who once held the world records for the 50m free and 50m fly (both short course), competed in four successive Olympics stretching from 1988 to 2000.

He missed out on the 2004 Games in Athens, but qualified again for the 2008 Olympics, where he was given the honour of being Team Great Britain's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony in Beijing.

There has been much chatter in the UK over who will light the flame at the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony on July 27.

Controversy has reigned between the two camps supporting decathlon great Daley Thompson and rowing legend Steve Redgrave.

Foster threw up some names, and then said: "I would like to see Redgrave light the torch but I don't think he will.

"I think it'll either be the Queen or Roger Bannister, the first person to run the mile in less than four minutes."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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