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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“Yo Adrian! You Did It!” Team USA Wins Golds, Breaks World Record In Pool

If he had been subjected to the same nailbiting experience as those who watched his race, Nathan Adrian may be wearing a silver medal tonight instead of his gold.

Adrian won his second gold medal of the London Olympics by a fingernail as Americans won the Men’s 100m Freestyle and Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay finals Wednesday, with Rebecca Soni also claiming the world record in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke in her semifinal swim. Spectators also saw a lane-to-lane duel between American superstars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley semis.

Men’s 100m Freestyle Final

Adrian, a Bremerton, Wash., native nicknamed “Bok Choi,” won the 100m Free by a mere one one-hundredth of a second with a 47.52 time, overtaking Brazil’s Cesar Celo and Canada’s Brent Hayden after the 50m turn while fending off the rest of the field down the last length of the pool. He tapped the wall just ahead of Australia’s James “The Missile” Magnussen, who himself came back from fifth at the turn. Hayden settled for bronze.

Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay

Team USA fielded a stacked lineup in the Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay final, featuring three swimmers who have already won gold medals at these Games.

It was Allison Schmitt to the rescue on the anchor leg, chasing down the Aussies to give the Americans the gold in Olympic record-fashion with a 7:42.92 time. Australia led from the end of the second leg through the third leg. Missy Franklin led off and won the first split, but handed a third place time off to Dana Vollmer. Vollmer retook the lead on her first lap but finished her leg with Team USA in second. Shannon Vreeland, competing in her first Olympics, preserved the Americans’ second-place standing on the third leg before giving way to Schmitt, who posted the Americans’ fastest split times, catching and fending off Australia’s Alicia Coutts to clinched the gold. Schmitt’s relay split was the second-fastest in history.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final

Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta took no chances on his way to a gold medal, setting the men’s 200m breaststroke world record with a time of 2:07.28.  Brit Michael Jamieson wowed the home crowd by claiming silver, finishing only .15 seconds behind Gyurta. Japan’s Ryo Tateishi took bronze.

American swimmers Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle never contended for a medal, finishing

Women’s 200m Butterfly Final

The Chinese women’s swim team has been as much of a story as Team USA in London, and it continued its winning ways Wednesday as Jiao Liuyang set an Olympic record and won the gold medal by 1.19 seconds ahead of silver medalist Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain. Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi won bronze.

American swimmers were not a threat to medal until the last 50 meters, when Kathleen Hersey made a run after Hoshi. She finished fourth, .3 seconds off the podium. Cammile Adams was at the back of the field for most of the race but rallied to finish fifth.

Women’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals

Even though her race was just a semifinal, Soni left it all in the pool, setting a world record time of 2:20.00 and leading many to wonder what she would do for an encore in the final, to be swum tomorrow at 1:40 p.m. CT. Soni finished more than two seconds ahead of the next-fastest time by Danish swimmer Rikke Pedersen. American Micah Lawrence, making her London debut, also qualified for the final in the sixth position.

Women’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals

Franklin looks to continue her amazing performance at the games by medaling in tomorrow’s 100m Freestyle final, scheduled for 2:37 p.m. CT. Franklin qualified third out of the semis, with American Jessica Hardy joining her out of the last qualifying spot.

Men’s 200m Individual Medley Semifinals

As potentially his greatest competition for the 200m individual medley, Phelps kept his eyes on Lochte the entire semifinals – literally. Lochte and Phelps swam in adjacent lanes in the first semifinal heat, with Phelps maintaining the lead through both the butterfly and backstroke legs. Lochte took the lead on the breaststroke, and Phelps elected to coast to the wall in the freestyle instead of giving chase, qualifying third. Lochte posted the top qualifying time, while Hungary’s Lasclo Cseh beat out Phelps for the second spot.

Men’s 200m Backstroke Semifinals

Lochte may be the brand name in the backstroke, but Tyler Clary’s stock is also rising. The American outswam his more famous teammate by more than half a second in taking the top qualifying spot in tomorrow’s 200m backstroke final, set for 1:48 p.m. Lochte qualified in the second position.

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:

 

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 1: New Names and Old Faces

Day One of the 2012 London Olympics has come and gone and we’ve already seen some incredible last-second finishes, suspense, surprise and incredible feats of accuracy and athleticism. Here’s a synopsis of what we saw today. Please bear with me as I’ll pass on talking about stuff like weightlifting, air rifle and table tennis, which you’re welcome to check out if you’re interested on NBC’s website, http://www.nbcolympics.com.

Actually…

Table Tennis

I caught this on TV earlier and I think it’s worth mentioning. Ariel Hsing, a 16-year-old daughter of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants, made it to the second round of the table tennis tournament. This is a girl who calls Bill Gates and Warren Buffet “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Warren” and plays ping-pong at Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings. That’s mind-boggling. Anyway, read more about the story here, all credit to NBC’s online writers.

Now for the good stuff:

Swimming

Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final

Probably the worst-kept secret in America is now finally out in the open (thank you, tape-delay NBC broadcasts), and the world knows Ryan Lochte has finally established himself among swimming’s elite, handily beating Michael Phelps and six other swimmers for the men’s 400m individual medley gold medal. Lochte set himself up to win with a stellar 100m backstroke – which is his best stroke – but won with a phenomenal breaststroke. By the time he was finishing the freestyle, he was in no danger of losing the gold. Lochte is the fifth-straight American male swimmer to win this event.

First, let’s not knock Lochte for swimming collegiately for the Florida Gators after moving South from Rochester, NY. He’s an SEC man, and that’s good enough. And did you know he’s part Cuban? But to his credit, this isn’t that huge of a surprise. Lochte, who is only about to turn 28, has been a name to watch since the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, where he helped the USA win gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay (WITH Phelps) and won silver in the 200m individual medley. He followed that up by winning bronze in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, individual gold in the 200m backstroke and repeating gold in the 4x200m team free relay in world record fashion.

Let’s also not knock Michael Phelps for finishing a human fourth place by a handful of $5 footlongs. But this was an event he didn’t want to swim this time around, anyway. Arguably his best stroke – butterfly – was the first leg, and he’s only been training on this event for a matter of months, as opposed to Lochte’s obsessive four years of training. Oh, and by the way, as of today he only has 16 medals to his name. Was the all-time iconic performance in Beijing not enough to satiate our need for hero-worship?

Lochte will have more opportunities to win medals, competing in his best event, the 200m back, as well as the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. He’ll likely swim relay for the USA, too. Phelps still has the 100m and 200m fly, 200m individual medley 4x100m and 4×200 free relays and the 4x100m medley relays to go. He’ll have swum every event he won in Beijing except for the 200m free.

Which team are you on: Team Ryan or Team Michael?

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final

Natalie Coughlin saw the sun set with a bronze tint on her Olympic career as the US women finished bronze in the 4x100m free. Coughlin earned the quickest time on the US team in the prelims but was passed over for the final relay team, though her earlier swim earned her whatever medal the final team won. Instead, she watched as the next wave of swimming stars – Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt – kept stride with Australia until the final lap, during which they were also passed by the Dutch by less than half a second.

Coughlin joins Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson with 12 medals, the most all-time by an American female Olympian. There’s a slight chance she could compete in 2016 in Rio, but it seems unlikely.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final

The USA performed well in the medleys today, as Elizabeth Beisel, only 19 years old, finished a distant second for the silver medal behind a world record performance by China’s Ye Shiwen. American Caitlin Leverenz was also in the final. Beisel faltered early in the butterfly but regained the lead during the breaststroke, only to see Shiwen power past her in the freestyle. Beisel finished with a time of 4:31.27, fractions of a second under the American record. Beisel is the only American Olympian from Rhode Island competing in London.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Final

It was a great day for swimmers from Rochester. In what may be his final Olympics, Peter Vanderkaay snagged the bronze in the men’s 400m free. Vanderkaay had previously won an individual bronze in Beijing and was a part of those golden 4x200m relays in 2004 and 2008.

Preliminaries

American female swimmer Dana Vollmer – also from upstate New York – set an Olympic Record in the 100m fly with a time of 56.36, and Texan Claire Donahue also made it into final with a 57.42. Four-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen barely sneaked into the men’s 100m breaststroke final, finishing sixth in his heat but qualifying eighth overall.

Beach Volleyball

Women

Misty May and Kerri Walsh are back! The dynamic duo that once was and almost wasn’t has reunited for a third and final run at Olympic gold in the women’s beach volleyball event.

Now both married (May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings), the greatest force in their sport’s history will operate as the No. 3 seed in a pairing that seemed finished after Beijing. Walsh Jennings, under the assumption that May-Treanor was done competing, asked Nicole Branagh to prepare to play in London as her partner. It wasn’t until May-Treanor woke crying one morning that she realized she wanted to compete one last time, so she initiated the conversation with Walsh Jennings, who then had the unpleasant task of informing Branagh.

The world benefited from the decision, however, and today the duo debuted against No. 22 Australian pairing Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. Three of the four athletes – Cook, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – are all gold medalists. It was a vigorous match throughout, with the Americans taking the first set 21-18 after trading points several times with the Aussies. Team USA seemed beatable, even though coming into the match they had NEVER LOST A SINGLE SET in Olympic play. It remained that way, as another back-and-forth set culminated with an absolutely incredible series of volleys. May-Treanor pulled several digs from the brink of scoring including an acrobatic left-handed dive, then fired into a push by Hinchley to clinch the match, 21-19. They are now 15-0 in Olympic play, winning all 30 sets.

The other US pairing of April Ross and Jen Kessy play Sunday.

Men

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb had less of a struggle in their opening match Saturday, defeating South Africa in straight sets, 21-11, 21-10. Gibb, a cancer survivor, led most of the statistical categories. The pair is the No. 2 ranked American team behind Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, who open play tomorrow.

Soccer

The US Women shut out Colombia today, 3-0, with goals by Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. You know the latter two as the Pia Sundhage played around with the lineup a bit to start the game today, replacing Shannon Boxx who was injured with Lloyd and starting Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts. Wambach’s goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which is the most by an American woman in history.

The game was chippy throughout, and that continued after the match off the pitch when goalkeeper Hope Solo sent a couple of snide comments Brandi Chastain’s way via Twitter. Chastain – an all-time great defender in her own right – is a commentator for the women’s games and offered some criticism of the US defense, which Solo didn’t take a  liking to. But let’s let bygones be bygones – the US is in the quarterfinals.

Women’s Basketball

What a dominant showing by Team USA against Croatia, at least in the closing quarter of the game. Croatia, not considered a relative powerhouse by any means, stuck with the Americans, who struggled to find shots and hit the glass on offense early. The lead was within single digits early in the fourth quarter before USA went on a run and won, 81-56.

A lot has been made of whether the current men’s roster would take out the Dream Team from 1992 (for that matter, would they beat the 1996 team?), but goodness, the women’s roster is incredibly stacked as well. Think of the consensus best players in the country in women’s basketball for the last several years. Got em? Chances are they’re in this list of women on Team USA: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings. Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash and Lindsey Whalen were no slouches in their day, either.

The roster breakdown comprises six former UConn Lady Huskies, two Tennessee Lady Vols and two LSU Lady Tigers. Elite. Talent. Props also to Minnesota and Louisville for being represented.

Oh, and coaching maestro Geno Auriemma is in charge.

Men’s Gymnastics

If you like elite talent in your men’s gymnastics, you might be disappointed this time around. Many of the top competitors underperformed during the qualifying events, including huge slip ups by powerhouses China and Japan. Team USA is sitting in great position for a medal, perhaps gold, when the team finals take place on Monday.

There are some great stories among the men’s team, perhaps none more interesting than that of John Orozco, a kid from the inner-city Bronx who has endured socioeconomic struggles and battled serious injuries on his way to London.

Rowing

I actually really enjoy the Olympic rowing events, so I paid attention today as Team USA advanced to the finals of the men’s eight, an event dominated recently by Germany, and the US also put a boat into the women’s pair finals.

Archery

I know I posted previously, but a shout-out to the USA men’s archery team for clinching the first medal of the Games for us – a silver – and reminding me that even watching people shoot a bow and arrow at a target not only takes world-class precision and skill, but is also pretty entertaining when the chips are down.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE

I’ll post a schedule of events tomorrow morning!  Enjoy your evening!