2012 london olympics

Yet Another U.S. Swimmer Emerges As a Star

Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrates after he won the Final of the Men's 100m Freestyle on Day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 1, 2012 in London, England.
Happy guy.

The five stories from this afternoon’s Olympic swimming business, with the one you care about the most right at the top.

Nathan Adrian wins the men’s 100 free. 

Noticeably absent from this event was Cullen Jones, one of America’s leading sprint freestylers (he’s also the statuesque swimmer posing in the Citibank ads in the Union Square subway station); after a lackluster prelims swim, he failed to qualify. But that was easy to get past: Adrian came from behind to defeat James Magnussen, the Aussie heavily favored to win the event, by a single hundredth of a second. As the race ended, the two swimmers, who stand around the same height (6’6”), looked nearly identical as they touched, gliding to the wall together, Adrian’s fingers reaching the wall just slightly sooner. The American swimmers watching from the stands exploded into cheers. 

The American women win the 800 free relay. 

The relays have always been America’s strongest suit, and with powerhouse Allison Schmitt as the anchor leg, they easily defeated the closest competitor, Australia, to win another gold. This means the U.S. has medaled in all the relays so far.

Look for Tyler Clary to challenge Lochte in the 200 back finals. 

Ryan Lochte came out of the water ahead of the rest of the pool; his strong underwaters will help him propel himself forward — and not exhaust his arms, important when you’re swimming several events in a single day like Lochte is. He may have been conserving some energy, but he still posted a time fast enough to qualify second for the 200 back. His teammate Tyler Clary — who has had an under-the-radar, terrific meet, often swimming just as fast as Phelps and Lochte but getting about a tenth of the attention — will be the first seed. The American men have, in recent Olympics, dominated the backstroke events; it seems this year won’t be different.

Soni breaks a world record — in prelims. 

Where Lochte might have held back, American Rebecca Soni clearly did not, touching two-and-a-quarter seconds above the second-place finisher; she knocked down the world record and will enter the finals with a time of 2:22.00. Look for her to try to break 2:22 in that race; if she continues to swim as well as she has been during this Games, she should be able to do it. 

Phelps and Lochte square off in the 200 IM. 

It wasn’t even the finals yet, but these prelims felt nearly as important, with Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swimming in lanes four and five in the first heat. Everyone else in the heat was essentially a nonentity (Hungary’s László Cseh and Brazil’s Thiago Pereira were in the second heat); the Americans were out front together until Lochte pulled away in the second half of the freestyle. 

The American women were touched out of the podium in the 200 fly. 

The Chinese women are having a terrific swim meet, and in that most painful of events, the 200 fly, their swimmer Jiao Liuyang dominated and broke the Olympic record in doing so. Americans Kathleen Hersey and Cammile Adams took fourth and fifth.

Also, Jessica Hardy and Missy Franklin will advance to tomorrow’s 100 free finals. In Jessica Hardy’s heat, the race was thrilling to watch; at the 50 split, the first-, second-, and third-place women flipped on the wall within .02 of one another. Hardy will move on to the finals tomorrow as the eighth seed, Missy Franklin will enter in third. Eight-tenths of a second separated first and eighth places; while that’s a noticeable distance, it will still look like less than half a body length. 

Mary Jane Weedman is writing about Olympic swimming for The Sports Section. E-mail her at MaryJane.Weedman@nymag.com.

Yet Another U.S. Swimmer Emerges As a Star