Franklin, Grevers Lead Golden Monday in the Pool for Team USA

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.

American Swimming Trio Wins Gold, Silver and Bronze in Record Fashion

All was not lost today for Team USA Swimming, as the Americans upped their medal count and, led by Dana Vollmer’s epic butterfly, made headlines.

QUICK FUN FACT:  Have you noticed that sometimes your favorite American swimmers are wearing white swim caps and sometimes they’re wearing black ones?  This is a USA Swimming tradition, according to former Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, who did not qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. American swimmers will wear white caps during the day at qualifying events and black in the evenings, which are generally semifinals and finals.

Women’s 100m Butterfly Finals

There must be something in the water in upstate New York, with swimmers native to the area having performed incredibly well at these Olympics. Vollmer, born in Syracuse, was the latest example, blowing away the field and the established world record in the Women’s 100m Butterfly and securing the United States’ third gold medal in London. She posted a time of 55.98 and defeated silver medalist Lu Ying of China by nearly a full second.

Vollmer was making her individual Olympic debut, though she won gold in Athens 2004 in the 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay. She swam in the 2000 Olympic trials at age 12 – the youngest ever to do so – and will swim again in the 4 x 200m Free Relay on Wednesday.

American Claire Donahue finished seventh.

Women’s 400m Freestyle Finals

American Allison Schmitt was second in her qualifying heat by a mere two-hundredths of a second to French swimmer Camille Muffat. Despite her best efforts, Schmitt could only repeat the result in the final, as Muffat won with an Olympic Record time, never losing a split. To her credit, Schmitt set an American record with her time and remained in second place the entire race.

Men’s 100m Breaststroke Finals

Brendan Hansen, who barely qualified for the final in the 100m Breaststroke after finishing fourth in the final in Beijing, squeaked onto the podium with a bronze medal by four-tenths of a second ahead of Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta,. South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh won gold in world record fashion. Hansen was part of the gold medal winning USA team in the 4 x 100m medley relay and will swim that event later these Games.

Women’s 100m Backstroke Semifinals

Coloradan Missy Franklin is sitting in second position heading into the 100m Backstroke Finals tomorrow at 1:51 p.m. Franklin qualified just behind Aussie Emily Seebohm and will have to fend off home crowd favorite and world record holder, Brit Gemma Spofforth, as well.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Semifinals

USA is set up in prime medal contention in the 100m Women’s Breaststroke, as both Rebecca Soni and Breeja Larson advanced from the first heat into the finals. Soni, a New Jersey native, and Larson, hailing from Mesa, Ariz., took the top two spots from their heat and are slotted second and fourth, respectively, for the final.

The last slot in the finals was up for grabs as Canada’s Tara van Beilen and Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson were in a dead heat at 1:07.48. Atkinson won a swim0ff later in the evening. The final is scheduled for tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. Central Time.

Men’s 200m Freestyle Semifinals

On a day which saw Ryan Lochte give up the lead and eventually the gold medal in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay, Lochte put himself in position to win another gold medal by making it through the semifinals in the Men’s 2oom Freestyle. Defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who won this event in Beijing in 2008, decided not to swim this event in London. Lochte was faltering prior to the final turn but made a vigorous  swim to come back and place second in his heat and posted the 5th best overall. Perhaps his final 50 explains his mishap in the relay?

Fellow American Ricky Berens failed to qualify for the final, which is tomorrow at 1:43 p.m. CT.

Men’s 100m Backstroke Semifinals

Team USA will field two swimmers in the 100m Backstroke Finals, with Matt Grevers posting the top overall time in the semis by nearly .4 seconds and Nick Thoman qualifying in the fifth slot. The final is tomorrow at 1:58 p.m.