LONDON, England, August 4. THE fearsome foursome of Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt left no doubt about the winner of the women’s 400-meter medley relay as Team USA demolished the field with a world record at the 2012 London Olympics.
Franklin (58.50), Soni (1:04.82), Vollmer (55.48) and Schmitt (53.25) led wire-to-wire as the squad upended the world record with a sterling 3:52.05. That swim cleared the 3:52.19 clocked by China’s Zhao Jing (58.98), Chen Huijia (1:04.12), Jiao Liuyang (56.28) and Li Zhesi (52.81) during the 2009 World Championships during the height of the techsuit era. Notably, it also bested the American record of 3:52.36 posted by Natalie Coughlin (59.12), Soni (1:04.72), Vollmer (55.74) and Franklin (52.79) at the 2011 World Championships. The Australian Olympic record of 3:52.69 from 2008 also tumbled in the process.
“Each [world record] is different and unique, and this one was really special,” Soni said. “To share it with Dana and Allison and Missy was just incredible. Last year we were so close in Shanghai, to finally get it this year wrapped up the meet so perfectly for the USA women’s team.”
The win completed an unprecedented seven-event haul for Franklin. She finished her maiden Olympic outing with four gold medals, and a bronze for a total of five. She also took fourth and fifth, finaling in every single event she contested. With her four gold medals, Franklin ties Amy van Dyken for second on the list of most gold medals won by a female swimmer at one Olympics. Van Dyken won four gold in 1996 (50 free, 100 free, 400 free relay, 400 medley relay). The standard is still held by East Germany’s Kristin Otto, who went 6-for-6 in Seoul in 1988, winning the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly and 100 back, in addition to the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay. Notably, there was no 800 free relay for women in 1988, which Otto would likely have swum, as she used to hold the world record in the 200 free.
Otto and Natalie Coughlin each won the most medals of any kind in one Olympics among women, collecting six each: Otto in 1998 and Coughlin in 2008.
“I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to end it, that was so perfect in every way. It was the most fun relay I’ve ever been on, these relays have been so exciting. Every single team in the ready room tonight was laughing and joking,” Franklin said. “I am going to miss this so much. I’m really excited to meet up with my family and explore London a little bit, but I’m so sad it’s all over. I’ve learned so much from this experience and I can’t wait to take that home with me.”
Soni finished with three medals this week, including two gold, for a career tally of six Olympic medals (three gold). Vollmer went three-for-three in gold this week, and now has four Olympic golds in her career, adding to her 800 free relay victory in 2004. Schmitt also won her third gold this week, and went five-for-five in her events when it came to winning a medal of any kind. She also took a silver and a bronze. She now has six Olympic medals on her resume, including a bronze in the 800 free relay in 2008.
Australia’s Emily Seebohm (59.01), Leisel Jones (1:06.06), Alicia Coutts (56.41) and Melanie Schlanger (52.54) took silver in 3:54.02 for the Aussie’s fifth straight medal in the event. They won in 2004 and 2008, and took second to the U.S. in 1996 and 2000. With the silver, Jones ties Ian Thorpe for the most medals by an Australian swimmer. While Thorpe collected his haul of five gold, three silver and one bronze across two Olympiads (2000 and 2004), Jones won three gold, five silver and one bronze in four Olympics, starting with two silvers in 2000.
Japan’s Aya Terakawa (58.99), Satomi Suzuki (1:05.96), Yuka Kato (57.36) and Haruke Ueda (53.42) finished third in 3:55.73 for Japan’s second medal ever in the event. It took bronze in 2000 behind the U.S. and Australia.
“Our aim was to win a medal in this relay. We set this goal a long time before this Olympic Games,” Terakawa said. “We expected a close race but we swam as we thought we would. It is a wonderful achievement.”
Russia (3:56.03), China (3:56.41), The Netherlands (3:57.28), Denmark (3:57.76) and Great Britain (3:59.46) comprised the rest of the championship heat.
LONDON, England, August 3. THE two-time defending champions Australia put together a strong morning relay to lead the way into finals of the women’s 400-meter medley relay at the 2012 London Olympics.“Australia has a great history in relays and we always have so much fun,” Seebohm said. “I am looking forward to the final tomorrow.”
The foursome of Emily Seebohm (58.57), Leisel Jones (1:05.96), Alicia Coutts (57.45) and Brittany Elmslie (53.44) cruised to the top time of the morning with a 3:55.42. Australia has won the past two iterations of the event in 2004 and 2008, after finishing runner-up to the U.S. in 1996 and 2000. Australia is vying to join a pair of U.S. runs with its third straight victory. Team USA won in 1992, 1996, 2000 for a threepeat, while also taking the first four golds in the event from 1960-72.
Japan’s Aya Terakawa (59.19), Satomi Suzuki (1:07.15), Yuka Kato (57.73) and Haruka Ueda (53.80) qualified second in 3:57.87. Japan has missed the podium for the past two Olympiads after earning its only medal with a bronze in 2000.
Denmark’s Rie Nielsen (1:00.27), Rikke Pedersen (1:07.15), Jeanette Ottesen Gray (56.74) and Pernille Blume (54.19) qualified third in 3:58.35, while Team USA’s Rachel Bootsma (59.70), Breeja Larson (1:06.66), Claire Donahue (58.05) and Jessica Hardy (54.47) posted a 3:58.88 for fourth.
“I’m very happy with that race for all of us, I think that was a good one,” Donahue said. “To come back tonight and be able to final, so the girls could swim again. I think for each of us that was the main goal, but individually for each of us we are all racers. For me that was very exciting to be part of a USA relay at the Olympics. Oh my gosh, I will be jumping up and down if [a gold medal] happens, for minutes. First to be a part of this relay in the morning was amazing and then to be able to have a shot to get a gold medal is insane to me. Coming in to this meet I was just happy to be here and happy to experience everything. But coming out of it being able to possibly medal is just insane, it’s incredible.”
The Netherlands (3:59.19), Great Britain (3:59.37), China (3:59.38) and Russia (3:59.57) rounded out the championship heat. Germany, the defending bronze medalist, wound up ninth in 3:59.95.
“I am happy. There is something to improve on for the finals,” Great Britain’s Gemma Spofforth said. “The crowd is just insane. As soon as we made that final, they just went crazy. It definitely spurred me on. We need a fast race. A medal is definitely what we want to get but there are lots of fast teams out there.”
LONDON, England, August 1. TEAM USA reclaimed the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay title with the help of a sterling anchor leg from Allison Schmitt at the 2012 London Olympics.The win also put the title back in American hands with the Stars and Stripes having won four of the five offerings of the event. Team USA also came within a second of the world record of 7:42.08 posted by China at the 2009 World Championships at the height of the techsuit era.
Team USA trailed throughout most of the event with Australia and France exchanging the lead before Schmitt took the water. Schmitt then demolished the field with a 1:54.09 anchor leg as Missy Franklin (1:55.96), Dana Vollmer (1:56.02) and Shannon Vreeland (1:56.85) combined with Schmitt for an Olympic record 7:42.92. That performance blasted the previous standard of 7:44.31 Australia used to win the event in 2008.
Australia’s Bronte Barratt (1:55.76), Melanie Schlanger (1:55.62), Kylie Palmer (1:56.91) and Alicia Coutts (1:56.12) turned in a second place time of 7:44.41 for Australia’s fourth medal since first winning bronze in 1996, the first appearance of the event in Olympic history. The Aussies have also won silver in 2000 and gold in Beijing.
France’s Camille Muffat (1:55.51), Charlotte Bonnet (1:57.78), Ophelie-Cyrielle (1:58.05) and Coralie Balmy (1:56.15) took third with a 7:47.49, while Canada’s Barbara Jardin (1:57.96), Samantha Cheverton (1:56.91), Amanda Reason (1:59.32) and Brittany Maclean (1:56.46) missed the podium with a fourth-place 7:50.65.
Great Britain (7:52.37), China (7:53.11), Italy (7:56.30) and Japan (7:56.73) rounded out the championship heat. Notable splits from those teams were a 1:57.37 from Ye Shiwen for China, a 1:57.39 from Rebecca Turner of Great Britain, and a 1:57.61 anchor from Federica Pellegrini of Italy.
LONDON, England, July 31. THE figure at the center of much controversy after blasting the world-record in the women’s 400-meter IM, 16-year-old Ye Shiwen of China swept the IM events at the 2012 London Olympics with an Olympic record.With the win, Ye equaled Stephanie Rice’s IM sweep from 2008, and earned her second Olympic gold medal. She now has three international meet victories on her resume, after winning the 200 IM at the 2011 World Championships last summer.
Standing third heading into the final 50 meters, Ye blasted a 29.32 final split to win the event in 2:07.57. That performance cleared her Olympic record of 2:08.39 from the semifinal round, which had stood as the overall textile best as well. The time also bettered the Asian record of 2:08.32 set by Qi Hui in October of 2009, moving Ye to fourth all time in the event’s history. Ariana Kukors’ world record of 2:06.15 from the 2009 World Championships remained on the books.
The pundits have been out in full force either support or attacking Ye this week, some calling her a potential drug cheat due to China’s history. The controversy came to a boiling point, with the IOC even coming out in defense of the 16-year-old today.
Australia’s Alicia Coutts finished second in 2:08.15 to jump to fifth in the all time rankings. The silver is her third Olympic medal of the meet, one of each color. She won gold with the 400 free relay and took bronze in the 100 fly.
USA’s Caitlin Leverenz raced to bronze with a 2:08.95 on the back of a dominant breaststroke leg. That gave the U.S. its third bronze in four meets, which also included a silver from Amanda Beard in 2004. The medal is her first at any global meet. She did get regional bronze in both IMs at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships.
Defending champ Rice placed fourth in 2:09.55, while world-record holder Kukors took fifth in 2:09.83. Defending silver medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe placed sixth in 2:11.13, while Great Britain’s Hannah Miley (2:11.29) and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (2:14.19) also swam in the finale.
LONDON, England, July 30. AFTER setting the world record in the women’s 400-meter IM on the first night, China’s Ye Shiwen looks like a lock to sweep the IM events after posting an Olympic record in the 200-meter IM semis at the 2012 London Olympics.Australia’s Alicia Coutts, who placed third in the women’s 100 fly last night even after getting suck during the race, is gunning for her third Olympic medal of the meet after posting a second-seeded 2:09.83. She also helped the Aussies to a win in the 400 free relay on the first night. Coutts would love to join defending Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice and Shane Gould (1972) as the only Australians to win this event since it began in 1968.
Ye, 16, threw down a 30.59 final 50 meters to set an Olympic record and textile best in the shorter distance medley with a 2:08.39. That swim bested Stephanie Rice’s Olympic record of 2:08.45 set in her 2008 triumph. It also bested Ye’s overall textile best of 2:08.90 clocked both at the 2011 World Championships and in prelims this meet. Her time tonight pushed her to fifth all time, and is just off Qi Hui’s Asian record of 2:08.32 from the techsuit era. The question remains if she can track down the world record of Ariana Kukors, who blasted a 2:06.15 in the event at the 2009 World Championships during the heyday of the techsuit era.
Team USA fielded the best two spots with Caitlin Leverenz (2:10.06) and Kukors (2:10.08) qualifying third and fourth. Leverenz is vying for her first worldwide international medal after taking sixth in the 400 IM earlier this week and fifth and eighth in the 200 IM and 400 IM, respectively, in 2011. She did earn bronze at the more regional Pan Pacific Championships in both the IMs in 2010.
Kukors, the world-record holder, is vying for her first Olympic medal of any kind. She won this event at the 2009 World Championships with her world record, and took third in 2011. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu qualified fifth in 2:10.74, while defending champ Rice posted a sixth-seeded 2:10.80. Rice is vying to join Yana Klochkova as two-time winners of the event after topping the 2008 meet.
Great Britain’s Hannah Miley finished seventh in 2:10.89, while defending silver medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe earned the last transfer spot with a 2:10.93 for eighth. Coventry has won a medal in this event in the past two Olympics. First taking bronze in 2004, then silver in 2008.
OLYMPICS DAY 1
Netherlands’ Inge Dekker, Australia’s Alicia Coutts and Missy Franklin of the U.S. compete in the women’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay final
Photo by Francois Xavier Marit
LONDON, England, July 28. DANA Vollmer decided to kick is up a notch in prelims of the women’s 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics.
Vollmer, who already held the American record with a 56.42 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, a time which also stood as the textile best, put on the afterburners in prelims with a scorching time of 56.25. That swim not only bested her American and textile best time, it also wiped out the Olympic record of 56.61 set by Inge de Bruijn of The Netherlands at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Vollmer’s effort is the fourth fastest off all time, with her still standing as the fourth performer behind Sarah Sjostrom (56.06), Liu Zige (56.07) and Jessicah Schipper (56.23). Vollmer is in line to become the first American to win the event since Amy van Dyken claimed the title in 1996 with the closest finals swim in the Olympic event’s history. Van Dyken clipped China’s Liu Limin, 59.13 to 59.14, at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
China’s Lu Ying raced to second in 57.17 to move to 15th all time in the event’s history. She will be attempting to win China’s first gold medal in the event since Qian Hong topped the 1992 race with a 58.62.
Australia’s Alicia Coutts (57.36), Sweden’s Sjostrom (57.45) and Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray (57.64) qualified third through fifth. Australia is riding a two-Games win streak in the event with Petria Thomas and Libby Trickett claiming the last two gold medals. Sjostrom, meanwhile, did enough to advance, but will be looking to better her world record of 56.06 set during the techsuit era. Denmark has never medaled in this event.
China’s Jiao Liuyang (57.71), USA’s Claire Donahue (58.06) and Great Britain’s Fran Halsall (58.23) rounded out the top eight.
Great Britain’s Ellen Gandy (58.25), The Netherlands’ Inge Dekker (58.30), Singapore’s Li Tao (58.34), Italy’s Ilaria Bianchi (58.42), Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia (58.50), Sweden’s Martina Granstrom (58.70), Japan’s Yuka Kato (58.72) and Greece’s Kristel Vourna (58.73) also made the semifinal rounds.
Defending bronze medalist Jessica Schipper missed semis completely with a 24th-place 59.17. With 2008 gold medalist Trickett not swimming the event, and 2008 silver medalist Christine Magnuson missing the team this year, a new podium is guaranteed.
By John Lohn
GILLETTE, New Jersey, May 14. AS we creep closer to the Olympic Games in London this summer, Swimming World will produce event-by-event previews of the action set to unfold. As part of this series, we’ll not only look at the leading contenders in each event, we’ll also provide a historical perspective on each discipline. This approach was successful in the leadup to the Beijing Games and we hope our readership enjoys the coverage for this Olympiad.