London 2012 Swimming

Marathon Swimming (M): Oussama Mellouli (TUN), first winner ever in the pool and in open water!

London 2012 Swimming

Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia won the Olympic Swim Marathon 10km today in Serpentine Lake at London's Hyde Park. Mellouli won the first and only gold medal for his country at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He finished the race is 1:49.55.1, more than 3 seconds ahead of Thomas Lurz of Germany, the most decorated open water swimmer in the race. Richard Weinberger of Canada finished 5.2 seconds behind the Tunisian to earn third place.

Mellouli is the first swimmer to win a medal in both the pool and the open water swimming events in the same Olympic Games and is also the first athlete to have won a gold medal in both the pool and open water events. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Mellouli won the gold medal in the 1500m freestyle. He competed in this event in London, swimming one half a second faster than he did four years ago, this time for a bronze medal. 

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Marathon Swimming (W): Eva Risztov (HUN): tired of the pool, successful in open water!

London 2012 Swimming

Eva Risztov, a veteran of pool swimming at two Olympic Games, an athlete who retired from swimming eight years ago, found that she had the golden touch in The Serpentine in Hyde Park today. The 26 year old Hungarian survived a strong challenge from USA's Haley Anderson to collect Hungary's second gold medal in swimming as these Olympic Games. Risztov completed the women's 10km marathon in 1:57.38.2, just .4 of a second ahead of the American swimmer. This is the second edition of the 10km swim marathon. Larissa Ilchenko (RUS) was the winner of the 2008 Olympic gold medal in Beijing.

Risztov and Anderson swam the Olympic 10km qualifier in Setubal, Portugal in early June where both swimmers gained their entry into the London Olympics. That result was won by Anderson by a margin of 1.4 seconds. The pair beat all of the top ten athletes who automatically qualified from last year's world championships in this event. The 2011 FINA 10km silver medallist, Italy's Martina Grimaldi finished 3.6 seconds behind the winner to collect the bronze medal. Grimaldi earned the only swimming medal for Italy in the 2012 Olympic Games.  

The 10km marathon was a heartbreak for the 2008 Olympic swimming silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne of Great Britain who was just .4 of a second outside of the medals. Payne was also the world champion in this event from last year in Shanghai. She was the reason that thousands of spectators had turned up in Hyde Park hoping to see her "trade up" the Beijing silver for a shinier medal at the home games.

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Swimming day 8 – USA end on a high note, Phelps retires with 22 medals!

London 2012 Swimming

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With two more victories in the eighth and final session of swimming at these 2012 Olympic Games, team USA completed in the best possible way its supremacy at the London Aquatics Centre, accumulating a total 30 medals, including 16 gold (exactly the half of titles at stake)! One swimmer, as it happened in Athens and Beijing, emerged from the swimming competition: superstar Michael Phelps retired after the 4x100m medley relay, walking away with a total 22 Olympic medals (18 are gold), an unprecedented (and, who knows, unbeatable) record.

The U.S. domination was overwhelming at these 2012 Olympics in the pool. They got thrice as much gold medals as their closest competitors (China, with 5) and also three times the total of medals won by the other successful teams in London (Japan with 11, China and Australia with 10). Four years ago at the "Water Cube", the North Americans had earned 31 medals, 12 of which gold. Moreover, five countries can celebrate these Games as a landmark for the development of their swimming teams: China, second in the medal table with 10 awards (including five gold), France, the best European nation with seven podiums (including four victories), Netherlands (four medals and two victories), Japan (11 awards, including three silver and eight bronze) and South Africa (three medals, including two gold).

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Swimming day 7 – Blackjack for Phelps, Franklin sets 7th World Record

London 2012 Swimming

This time, no need to review the images twice, thrice, in slow motion or with the help of an underwater camera! This time, everything could be seen from above the water level, without special technology or complicated timing devices. Michael Phelps' (USA) victory in the men's 100m butterfly was clear and allowed the "kid of Baltimore" to collect his 21st medal at Olympic level – a true blackjack in the pool! In the famous cards' game, the dealer normally doesn't take hits when his two cards represent 17 or more points, which is also the number of gold medals in possession of Michael Phelps since his first successes at the 2004 Games in Athens. The question is: with still one event to go (the 4x100m medley relay), will Phelps take one more gold hit – his 18th one?

In Beijing, this race had been "the race" of the Games, with Phelps getting the title in the last stroke against a less aggressive Milorad Cavic (SRB), who glided too much and did not apply enough strength on the touch pad – the same mistake done by Phelps in London in the 200m fly! The final difference between the two swimmers at the "Water Cube" had been minimal – 50.58 for Phelps against Cavic's 50.59. At the London Aquatics Centre, Phelps was only seventh at half way, but applying his well-known "turbo" at the 75m-mark, he comfortably touched first in 51.21, getting his second individual gold at these Games after the triumph in the 200m IM. With this win, Phelps obtains his third consecutive Olympic success in this event and completes a perfect Olympic cycle, with the gold in Beijing and London, but also at the 2009 and 2011 FINA World Championships. 

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Swimming day 6 – Phelps at his best continues to amaze the world!

London 2012 Swimming

If more records were needed to confirm the title of "Best Olympian in the history of the Games", Michael Phelps (USA) established one more on day 6 of the Swimming finals at the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympic Games. In the much expected men's 200m IM final, Phelps would attempt to become the first male swimmer to successfully defend his title at three consecutive Olympics in the same individual event. After his successes in 2004 and 2008, he triumphed once more, winning in 1:54.27. This is Phelps' 20th Olympic medal (including 16 golds)! Only two other swimmers have managed to win three individual titles in a row at Olympic level: Australia's Dawn Fraser - who was in the Aquatics Centre to cheer on Phelps' feat - in the women's 100m free between 1956 and 1964, and Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN), in the women's 200m backstroke, in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Phelps dominated the entire race and looked in a fresher condition than teammate Ryan Lochte, who had swum the 200m backstroke earlier in the evening. As it happens, Phelps became the first male swimmer of the 2012 Olympics to retain his 2008 title in an individual event.

On his rivalry with Lochte, Phelps admitted: "Ryan and I have had a lot of good races. Over the last four years, Ryan has made a lot of improvement, in and out of the pool. For me, it's going to be fun to be able to watch what these guys do over the next four years, where they continue to take the sport. We have had a fun career with one another, we do push each other. He has brought the best out of me many times." Commenting on his result, the greatest Olympian in history said: "Obviously it's a relief to win an individual gold, it's something pretty special. To be able to have the heat that we had all three of us, we shared the podium together and raced each other so many times that it is just cool to finish my career winning the 200 IM gold medal." Asked about his feelings on swimming his last competitive swim in London (Phelps will retire after these Games), he added: "Once it's over, it is really going to hit me emotionally, it is really emotional for my mother, she's watched my sisters go to the sport and retire, and she's going to watch me retire too. But after Sunday, there will be no more competitive swimming, I will be retired."

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Swimming day 5 – Gyurta and Soni set new WR in 200m breast

London 2012 Swimming

Two new World Records highlighted day 5 at the Aquatics Centre in London. The new global marks were established in the same event (200m breaststroke): in the men's final by Daniel Gyurta (HUN) and the women's semi finals by Rebecca Soni (USA). This brings the total of WR set in London to five. The evening was also marked by a thrilling race in the men's 100m free and by the unsuccessful attempt of Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) to obtain a third consecutive title in the men's 200m breaststroke. If needed, this session also proved that the "changing of the guard" is a reality in London and that to re-validate an Olympic title is a real challenge for the swimming stars so far. Last but not least, Spain obtained their second-ever medal for a female swimmer while the Games host enjoyed the second podium presence for a swimmer.

Considered by many the main event of the Swimming programme, the men's 100m free featured a superb race at the London Aquatics Centre. James Magnussen from Australia, the 2011 world champion in Shanghai, fastest performer in 2012 (47.10) and the first in the semis (47.63), was the man to beat and constituted a solid hope for an Australian gold. But many big names of freestyle swimming were in the final's line-up: on lane 2, world record holder Cesar Cielo from Brazil; on lane 1, the youngest of the field Yannick Agnel (FRA, and already three medals in London); on lane 5, Nathan Adrian, winner at the US Trials; and on lane 7, Canada's Brent Hayden, world champion in 2007 and silver medallist at Shanghai Worlds.

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Swimming day 4 – It's now official: Michael Phelps is the best ever in Olympic history!

London 2012 Swimming

altThroughout his awe-inspiring Olympic venture, Michael Phelps (USA) has accumulated two incredible records: the most gold medals (14) and the most gold medals in a single edition of the Games (8). One last record was missing for him to climb the highest march of the Olympic Pantheon: the biggest tally of Olympic medals. Coming to London, Phelps had 16 medals (14 gold and two bronze), quite close to Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's medal tally. Between 1956 and 1964, she had accumulated 18 medals, a record tally considered unbeatable for many decades, until the appearance on the international swimming stage of a phenomenon named Michael Phelps.

In the fourth session of the Swimming programme at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the US swimmer from Baltimore added two more awards (silver in the 200m butterfly and gold in the 4x200m free relay) to his unmatched roll of honour, collecting his 18th and 19th medals (adding to that his silver in the 4x100m free relay). He is now, considering any parameter of analysis, the best athlete ever in Olympic history, with a total 15 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals!

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Swimming day 3 - Agnel grabs third gold for France and Meilutyte first medal ever for Lithuania

London 2012 Swimming

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Another memorable session was lived at the Aquatics Centre on the third day of the Swimming programme. France got their third gold, Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers offered USA two more titles while the biggest revelation of the Games, Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte, was the strongest in the women's 100m breaststroke. The surprise of the day was Ryan Lochte's (USA) fourth place in the men's 200m free.

Over the years, this has become one of the most interesting events of the Swimming programme. The old rivalry between Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ian Thorpe, then Phelps and Biedermann has created a solid expectation surrounding this race at every major international rendezvous. The Games in London were no exception. Displaying a very strong field (only Phelps was missing), the athletes to watch were naturally Lochte, Tae-Hwan Park (KOR), Sun Yang (CHN), Yannick Agnel (FRA) and Paul Biedermann (GER). The fastest of the semis had been Sun, world record holder in the 1500m free and winner of the 400m free in London. The Chinese star had, however, a bad start and was only sixth at the 50m mark, while Agnel departed fast from the blocks and managed to control his lead during the entire race. In the end, the successful member of the French quartet that had already grabbed gold in the 4x100m free relay on day 2, touched home in 1:43.14, much faster than Park and Sun, who shared the silver (and make their second podium appearance here in London) in 1:44.93. It was the first victory ever for France in this event in Olympic history and the third title for the country so far at the Aquatics Centre (besides Agnel's 200m free triumph and the above-mentioned relay, Camille Muffat won the 400m free). 

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Swimming day 2 - Two new WR; France takes revenge

London 2012 Swimming

altTwo new World Records and two gold medals for France were the highlights of the second day of competition at these Olympic Games in London. Dana Vollmer (USA) and Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) were the new fastest in the pool in their respective events, while Camille Muffat (FRA) brilliantly won the women's 400m free, being followed some minutes later by her compatriots in the men's 4x100m free relay. Phelps, member of the silver team of USA got his 17th Olympic medal, while Rebecca Adlington (GBR), the local hero and defending champion, had to content herself with the bronze in the 400m free. 

The first strong moment of the evening session happened in the women's 100m butterfly, where US Dana Vollmer clocked a new World Record in 55.98. Having established a new Olympic record of 56.25 during the heats and being also the fastest of the semis, Vollmer was the athlete to beat in the decisive race. She did not disappoint and improved the world best mark set at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome (ITA) when Sarah Sjoestroem had swum to victory in 56.06. It is the second gold medal for Vollmer at Olympic level, after her 800m free triumph at the 2004 Games in Athens (GRE). Additionally, the 24-year-old had been world champion at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai (CHN), winning last July in 56.87.

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Swimming day 1 - China shines, Phelps misses podium

London 2012 Swimming

In the much awaited duel on the first day of the Swimming competition of the 2012 Olympic Games, in the men’s 400m individual medley, Ryan Lochte (USA) clocked his best personal time to get the first gold in London and, perhaps, more importantly, to give a strong sign to Michael Phelps that things won’t be easy for the best swimmer in history during these Games. Touching home in 4:05.18, Lochte was never in difficulty during the entire race and comfortably confirmed his 2011 world title, obtained in Shanghai (CHN). The podium was completed by Brazil’s Thiago Pereira (silver, 4:08.86), who obtained his first Olympic medal, and by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (JPN, 4:08.94), who is also a neophyte at this level. Michael Phelps, 14 gold and two bronze medals in his roll of honour, finished fourth (4:09.28), after winning the gold both in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

This history of this race in London was rich. In the heats, Phelps did not managed so well his pace (he passed at the 100m mark under the WR pace, and then faded towards the end of his effort) and finished only eighth on a time of 4:13.33. The ninth ranked swimmer was Laszlo Cseh, from Hungary, the silver medallist in Beijing and recent European champion, who clocked 4:13.40. That was the first surprise of the morning. In the evening, despite swimming in lane 8, Phelps was expected to do better, having a best 2012 performance of 4:07.89. Still within the podium range at the 200m mark, his breaststroke leg was slow and he lost the opportunity of collecting his 17th Olympic award.

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