Ryan Lochte is the premier name on the minds of swimming fans and smitten women the world over, but Monday’s finals belonged to two other members of Team USA Swimming, as Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers were victorious in the backstroke, continuing American dominance in the event.
Women’s 100m Backstroke Finals
Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old swimmer residing in Aurora, Colo., came from tenths of a second behind at the 50m turn, overtaking Aussie Emily Seebohm to win the gold medal in 100m Women’s Backstroke. Seebohm allowed Franklin to overtake her on the last length of the pool but was never in danger of finishing any lower than a silver medal. Japan’s Aya Terakawa came back from fifth place at the turn to finish with the bronze medal.
Franklin’s feat is especially notable considering that less than 15 minutes prior to racing for gold, she swam in the semifinals of the Women’s 200m Freestyle, qualifying for the eighth and final spot.
Men’s 100m Backstroke Finals
In Beijing in 2008, Chicagoan Matt Grevers finished with a silver medal behind American all-time great and world record holder Aaron Piersol, whom Grevers touted as the best in the world. Piersol remains the world record holder in the 100m Backstroke, but he no longer holds the Olympic Record, which Grevers broke today on his way to taking the gold medal. Fellow American Nick Thoman made up substantial ground to give Team USA a 1-2 finish, winning his silver medal by .05 ahead of bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan.
Grevers’ Olympic Record time was 52.16 seconds. Thoman was third coming off the wall at 50m but stuck in the middle of a crowded pack gunning for silver. He held on for second place, fending off Irie, who had come back from 6th at the wall.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke Finals
Rebecca Soni seemingly struggled in the first 50 meters but battled back and made a mad rush down the stretch, but in the end she couldn’t overtake young Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, settling instead for a well-earned silver medal.
Soni went into the wall at the 50m turn in fourth place, a strong split considering she was near the back of the pack for much of the first length of the pool. The difference was too much to overcome, despite a spirited effort in the final 10 meters. Soni finished with a time of 1:05.55, a mere .08 seconds behind Meilutyte, who is the youngest woman to ever win the event and secured her country’s first medal at these Games.
American Breeja Larson was almost disqualified for entering the pool early, but further investigation revealed there was a technical malfunction, causing the start to sound before the swimmers were instructed to take their marks. Larson hit the wall at 50m in second place, but faltered down the stretch and finished in sixth place.
Soni will compete in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke and will swim breaststroke in the Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay.
Men’s 200m Freestyle Finals
The race was Lochte’s to win as he faced a field missing 2008 gold medalist Michael Phelps, who decided prior to the Games beginning to drop the event from his program. Coming off the wall at the 150m mark, Lochte was in position to clinch at least a silver medal, possibly overtaking France’s Yannick Agnel, who was less than two-tenths of a second ahead, for gold.
Instead, Lochte faltered down the last half length of the pool, giving way to China’s Sun Yang and Korea’s Park Taehwan, who tied for dual silver medals. Lochte was in at least third place at every split of the race before finishing fourth.
Team Ryan will enjoy Lochte for two more individual events – the 200m Backstroke, possibly his best event, and the 200m Individual Medley, where he’ll again go head-to-head against Phelps. Lochte will also swim for the U.S. in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay.
Women’s 200m Individual Medley Semifinals
Caitlin Leverenz and Ariana Kukors qualified with times of 2.10.06 and 2.10.08, respectively, in the women’s 200m individual medley finals tomorrow.
Men’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals
Phelps and fellow American Tyler Clary both posted qualifying times in the 200m Butterfly and will swim in the event finals tomorrow afternoon.