July 31 featured four more swimming event finals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. While disappointment was the word of the day for some athletes, others sang the joys of capturing gold. Here's a rundown of the day's results.
The first race contested was the women's 200m freestyle, which featured a full slate of potential winners in Team USA's Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin, France's Camille Muffat, and Australia's Bronte Barratt. In the end, it was Schmitt's race to win, and she won it in grand style, beating out silver medalist Muffat by nearly two full seconds. Barratt finished third, and Franklin just missed the medals after touching fourth. Although no doubt disappointed over not medaling in the event, Franklin should still be proud of her accomplishments, which include a gold in the July 30 100m backstroke final.
The men's 200m butterfly followed, with Michael Phelps trying once again for his first gold medal of the 2012 Games. After dominating the butterfly for nearly a decade, Phelps was the odds-on favorite to take the win. But it wasn't meant to be; despite leading the entire race, he finished .05 second behind South African Chad le Clos, who made a hard charge at the finish. And Phelps didn't take the result well, throwing his goggles down in apparent frustration after the race. Still, the silver gave him his 18th career Olympic medal, which represents an amazing accomplishment. Japan's Takeshi Matsuda came in third.
The women returned to the pool next, this time to decide the 200m IM. In the field were Chinese phenom Ye Shiwen, Australian Alicia Coutts, and a pair of Americans, World Record holder Ariana Kukors and Caitlin Leverenz. Ye took control, winning the gold in 2:07.57 over silver medalist Coutts. Leverenz claimed the bronze.
The most dramatic race of the day was arguably the final one contested: the men's 4x200m freestyle relay featuring Team USA's Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, and Ricky Berens. After giving up the win to France during the 4x100 freestyle, Lochte seemed determined to have a better outcome and charged hard to create a lead for Team USA. Phelps closed out the race swimming anchor and secured the gold—his first of the London Games—by topping France's time by more than 3 seconds. China finished third.
The win gave Phelps his 19th career Olympic medal, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time. And it's a record that will likely stand for some time to come.
2012 Olympic swimming competition continues August 1.