Swimming Recap – Day 6

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Team USA dominated YET AGAIN yesterday in the pool!  Apologies for the delayed update, but hey, even bloggers need a day to themselves. Here’s a recap of how the Americans performed on Day 6.

Men’s 200m Individual Medley Final

Advantage: Michael Phelps in the final head-to-head battle between the greatest Olympian of all-time and his anointed successor, Ryan Lochte. Phelps had allowed Lochte to take and maintain the lead in their semifinal heat on the breaststroke, but there would be none of that Thursday as Phelps lead from start to finish, clinching his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley.

The race begins with the butterfly, Phelps’ best stroke, before transitioning into a 50m backstroke, which is Lochte’s best stroke. The final two lengths of the pool are breaststroke followed by freestyle. Phelps led Lochte by 0.63 seconds at the finish. Brazil’s Thiago Pereira overtook Lochte on the backstroke for second place and held that slot before giving the silver back to Lochte on the final length of the pool. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, always a force in the pool, wavered in the standings the entire race before clinching the bronze a half-second ahead of Pereira.

The final race of Phelps’ career will be the Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on Saturday if the Americans qualify from the semifinals.

Men’s 200m Backstroke Final

Does Lochte have a firm grip on future American glory in the pool? Don’t tell that to Tyler Clary, who set an Olympic record time of 1:53.41 in the Men’s 200m Backstroke Final, clinching gold ahead of Japan’s Ryosuke Irie. Clary gained ground on each length of the pool, from the fourth position at the 50m touch, third at the 100m and second at the 150m. Lochte led Clary and Irie all the way through the 150m touch at the wall, but was a half-second behind Clary for the bronze.

Women’s 200m Breaststroke Final

It was a thrilling, global record-setting Women’s 200m Breaststroke Final. First, finishing third for the bronze medal, Russia’s Iuliia Efimova set a European record time of 2:20.92. Finishing second was Japan’s Satomi Suzuki, who equaled the standing Asian record with a time of 2:20.72. But the story for the second-straight day was USA’s Rebecca Soni, who set an American, Olympic and new World Record with a time of 2:19.59, nearly a half-second better than the world record she set in the previous night’s semifinals. Soni added the medal to her silver from the 100m Breaststroke.

Women’s 100m Freestyle Final

American Jessica Hardy was in position for bronze in the Women’s 100m Freestyle at the 50m turn, but she faltered to finish last in the field. Missy Franklin is apparently human after all, though she recovered from last at the turn to finish fifth. Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjo won gold with an Olympic Record time, Belarus’  Aliaksandra Herasimenia won silver and China’s Tang Yi won bronze.

Men’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals

American swimmers Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin both qualified for the Men’s 50m Freestyle Final, which will air tonight on NBC in prime time.

Men’s 100m Butterfly Semifinals

Phelps and Tyler McGill qualified first and third for the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final, also to air this evening.

Women’s 200m Backstroke Semifinals

Franklin looks to continue her incredible run at the London Games tonight in the Women’s 200m Backstroke Final, along with teammate Elizabeth Beisel. The pair posted the top two qualifying times.

Women’s 800m Freestyle Qualification

Team USA’s Katie Ledecky led every lap of her qualifying heat and posted the third-best time in the Women’s 800m Freestyle prelims. She’ll swim for the gold medal today.

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Phelps Becomes Greatest Olympian of All-Time with Gold in 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay

Michael Phelps stands alone as the greatest – or most prolific, you call it – Olympic athlete of all time. No modern Olympic athlete, in any sport, Summer or Winter, from any country, ever, has won more medals than Phelps.

It was a historic gold medal for Michael Phelps in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay – the 19th of his Olympic career. It capped a field day for Team USA in the pool Tuesday, with Americans winning medals in every final event, including gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.

Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final

The American men were heavily favored to repeate as gold medalists in the Men’s 2 x 400m Free, but I certainly didn’t expect the dominating performance begun on the second 100m of the leadoff swim by Ryan Lochte and ended on the resolute determination of Michael Phelps’ anchor leg. It was an interesting shift in strategy for Team USA, taking the pressure of the finish off Lochte and shifting it to their best swimmer.

While Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens share in the golden glory, the weight of the moment belongs to Phelps. His gold medal in this event was his 19th Olympic medal, which is the most of any athlete in any sport from any country in the modern history of the Olympic Games. Phelps’ family – watching from the grandstands – was clearly emotional, and Phelps hugged the lane divider for quite a while following the race’s conclusion to take in the moment.

France finished 3.07 seconds behind Team USA for the silver, and China was 6.6 seconds behind for the bronze.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Final

Phelps was not invincible on the day, however, faltering in his best event in probably the best race of the day. Phelps had the lead at every touch of the wall by tenths of a second and was seemingly on his way to gold at the final turn, but South African Chad le Clos, swimming in the lane to Phelps’ right, rode his wake and chased him down in the last half-length of the pool for the gold medal. Phelps lost his signature event by only five-hundredths of a second. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda won the bronze, and American Tyler Clary finished fifth.

It came down to the finish, which was the exact opposite of the same event in Beijing in 2008. Then, Phelps took a final stroke into the wall, overtaking an opponent who stayed underwater, stretching for the wall, by one one-hundredth of a second. This time around, Phelps was the one stretching underwater, and le Clos took the extra stroke.

Women’s 200m Freestyle Final

Allison Schmitt has hit for the cycle, topping her silver medal in the women’s 400m freestyle and bronze in the 4 x 100m free relay with an Olympic record time of 1:53.61 for the gold medal in the 200m free, blowing away the field. Schmitt was fourth after the 50m mark but posted the best time at each split the rest of the way. French swimmer Camille Muffat took silver and Aussie Bronte Barratt took bronze. Missy Franklin, the gold medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, was in medal contention at each split but finished .01 seconds out of a tie for bronze.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final

Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, amid allegations of doping after she posted a better freestyle split time than male American swimmer Ryan Lochte in a previous semifinal, chased down American Caitlin Leverenz and Australia’s Alicia Coutts in the last 50 meters on the freestyle to win her second gold medal of the Games. Shiwen’s time of 2:07.57 was an Olympic record. Coutts also overtook Leverenz, who led at the 150m mark after the breaststroke, for silver, though Leverenz held on for the bronze after coming back from sixth place at the 100m mark following the backstroke.

World record holder, American Ariana Kukors, finished fifth.

Men’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals

Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian, swimming in the same semifinal, were in contention for the lead at the 50m mark, with Adrian touching the wall first. Adrian pulled away from the field with 25 meters to go to win an intense semifinal, but Jones struggled visibly, finishing last and missing the final. Adrian’s 47.97 second result was the second-fastest time in the semis.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals

Americans Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle advanced to the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final, swum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., with times of 2:08.99 and 2:09.11, respectively. Weltz qualified in the fourth position, and Burckle qualified sixth.

Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals

Kathleen Hersey enters the Women’s 200m Butterfly Finals with the top qualifying time of 2:05.90, .2 seconds quicker than Jiao Liuyang of China. American Cammile Adams also qualified for the finals, finishing seventh. The finals will be swum tomorrow at 2:12 p.m. CT.

French Fried: Lochte, USA Concede Lead, Gold to France Relay Team

Revenge is a dish best served cold, in chlorinated water, aged over four years.

The French swim team feasted Sunday night in London, winning the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, defeating the USA by four-tenths of a second. The French victory was the opposite result of the everlasting image of Jason Lezak chasing down Alain Bernard to win the gold for the USA in this same event in Beijing in 2008.

The American team held the lead virtually from the get-go, as Michael Phelps swam the second leg and extended the lead bequeathed to him by Nathan Adrian to three-quarters of a second. Phelps performed a remarkable turn after his first 50m and extended his lead by going for distance under the water off the wall. Cullen Jones, the third leg in 2008, largely preserved the lead, though he gave some ground back to the pursuing French. It was then up to Lochte, who could not hold off France’s anchor down the final stretch, giving way in the last 25 meters and finishing second for the silver.

What will America now say about wonder boy Lochte? If you want to bash these Olympic heroes while they’re down as was the case with Phelps yesterday, then Lochte is equally guilty of choking today. In my opinion, the French simply outswam the Americans today, and there’s no necessity in pointing blame or crying foul over a silver medal.

This marks the first time since I believe the 2000 Sydney Olympics that the USA men did not win gold in the 4 x 100m free.

 

Phelps, Lochte will lead USA in Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final

Jason Lezak, the American hero of 2008’s Beijing Olympics in the men’s 4x100m freestyle has probably had his last Olympic swim.

Lezak anchored the US relay team in the qualifying swim today but will not swim in the event finals, where the US will look to continue its dominance. Instead, Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Ryan Lochte will swim in order with a powerful Australian team nipping at their heels.

The event is scheduled to live stream at 3 p.m. central after the other swimming events, but will not be aired on TV until primetime on NBC.

To refresh your memories, here’s how that 2008 relay race went down. My second favorite Olympic memory of all-time: