Adrian wins freestyle by a whisker

Aug. 1, 2012 at 5:01 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Nathan Adrian and Allison Schmitt brought the United States two Olympic swimming wins Wednesday, one by a large amount and one by the smallest margin possible.

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte also set up another duel while Rebecca Soni, instead of conserving her energy in the semifinals of the 200-meter breaststroke, set a world record.

Schmitt finished the evening by anchoring America's 800-meter freestyle relay team and she demonstrated the same speed and power she did while brushing aside the competition in Tuesday's finals of the 200-meter race.

She entered the water trailing Australia's Alicia Coutts by about half a body length. Coutts needed a far bigger lead than that.

Schmitt quickly motored past Coutts and won the race by 1.49 seconds. Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer and Shannon Vreeland swam the first three legs for the United States, helping bring the Americans their fourth win in this race in the last five Olympics.

As Schmitt headed for the finish line, her teammates could rest assured they were going to receive a gold medal. Adrian was not so fortunate.

In the furious, water-churning race that is the 100-meter freestyle, every stroke counts and with 25 meters to go it appeared Adrian could do no better than second to Australia's James Magnussen.

With each stroke, however, Nathan gained a little bit and as they both reached for the wall they were almost mirror images of each other.

A dead heat appeared possible, but the automatic timing device said Adrian had won by 0.01 of a second. He broke out in an enormous grin and began hugging everyone he could. Magnussen, in a classic picture of dejection, was left to look down at the water in the realization his chance had been missed by an unimaginably small margin.

One of the two swimming finals Wednesday was won by Jiao Liuyang of China in the women's 200-meter butterfly, where Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia claimed a silver that was only the second swimming medal in the history of her country. It was also Spain's first medal of any kind at these Olympics.

Daniel Gyurta of Hungary set a world record 2:07.28 in winning the opening final of the night in the 200-meter breaststroke ahead of Michael Jamieson of Britain and Ryo Tateishi of Japan.

The Japanese have not won a gold or silver medal in swimming in London, but they have incredibly won seven bronze ones.

Soni also set a world record when she did not really need to. The big race, her 200-meter breaststroke final, is set for Thursday. She gave her competition something to think about when she turned in a time of 2:20.20, more than 2 seconds faster than anybody else.

Lochte and Phelps, who have already been through a lot in London, qualified for Wednesday's 200-meter individual medley final with the first and third-fastest times of the semifinals.

Lochte defeated Phelps by a second in the first semifinal, but Phelps eased up at the finish. A medal of any kind for Phelps Wednesday would be his 20th. A gold one would make it 16 Olympic victories. Either way, he already has the record in both categories.

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