The marquee swimming races attracted a sell-out crowd in the Aquatic Center at London’s Olympic Park.
U.S. swimmer Dana Vollmer set the world record (55.98) today in the women’s 100m butterfly race, besting China’s Ying Lu (56.87) and Australia’s Alica Coutis (56.94).
Vollmer, who established an American record (56.42) at the USA Swimming Trials last month, flipped at the turn in third place. She soon sped past the two leaders and increased her margin – all the while nipping at the world record (56.06) set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem in the laser speedsuit era.
Despite touching the wall at the end of her stroke, Vollmer just broke the 56-second barrier – long thought to be unreachable.
This gold medal marked her second podium win in the Olympics. In Athens, she won the gold in the 800m freestyle relay.
Her American teammate Claire Donahue swam to a seventh place spot.
The women’s 400m freestyle contest featured three sub – 4:03 racers who had their eyes trained on the world record (3:59.15), set by fellow finalist Federica Pellegrina of Italy.
France’s Camille Muffat and Team USA’s Allison Schmitt battled each other the entire race, as they swam at a near, world record pace. Down the homestretch, the strong Muffat held off a valiant run by Schmitt to win the race with a 4:01.45 mark and set the Olympic record. Vollmer broke the American record, in her runner-up 4:01.77 finish.
The returning Olympics champion and home country favorite, Rebecca Adlington, ratcheted her speed in the last length to earn the bronze (4:03.01). Pellegrini finished off the pace (4:05.50) in fifth.
The men were not to be outdone, however. In the fan-favorite 100m breaststroke event, the Republic of South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh blazed from start to finish in cracking the world record of 58.58 (set in 2009), with a spectacular 58.46 finish.
Australia’s Christian Sprenger (58.93) won the silver, while USA’s Brendan Hansen notched his fifth overall Olympic medal by out-touching Daniel Gyurta by .04 seconds with a 59.49 mark.
The favored Japanese swimmer Kosouke Kitajima, who previously swam a 58.90 race earlier this year, finished in fifth (59.79).
The capstone event, the men’s 4×100 freestyle, was headlined by teams from France, USA, and Australia. The French were seeking to avenge their Beijing Olympics silver medal finish to Team USA, the world record holder (3:08.24).
The U.S. unit led the race through the 300m mark as Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, and Cullen Jones maintained a near, full-body lead. Ryan Lochte, who won the gold medal in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, held this lead through the final turn.
However, France’s anchorman Yannick Agnel caught up to Lochte with just 25 meters to go. Agnel, among the world’s best freestylists, overpowered the American to bring home the gold with a 3:09.93 clocking. The United States squad won the silver (3:10.38), and Russia (3:11.41) out-swam Australia (3:11.63) for the bronze.
“We raced tough. We just came up a little short,” said Locthe in a NBC interview.
Phelps has now earned 17 Olympics medals over his career, and he is now one step closer to breaking the 18-medal mark, as set by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina in 1964.
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