LONDON – Tonight is the final night of the 2012 Olympic swimming competition in the pool. So far, the United States leads all teams with 28 medals – 14 gold, 8 silver and six bronze. Its gold medal count already exceeds the 12 won in 2008 by the team in Beijing.
Here’s a short preview of the American swimmers in tonight’s finals:
Women’s 50m Freestyle: Jessica Hardy is the United States’ sole representative in the women’s 50m freestyle, qualifying seventh. Hardy is the world record-holder in the 100m breaststroke but has represented the U.S. in the 50 free at the last three major international meets, including the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships and the 2011 World Championships. She won gold at Pan Pacs and placed eighth at Worlds. This will be her first Olympic final in an individual event, but she has won silver in the women’s 400m free relay on the first night of competition. She also competed in the prelims of the women’s 400m medley relay yesterday. Since the 50 free became an Olympic event in 1988, the Americans have only won it once, in 1996.
Men’s 1500m Freestyle: Connor Jaeger might be best known as the guy who lost count and swam an extra 100 meters in the prelims of the men’s 1500m freestyle last month at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Tonight, he is competing in his first Olympic finals as the seventh seed in the men’s 1500m free. In his heat, he will be up against the likes of world record-holder Sun Yang of China, defending Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia, and Olympic bronze medalist Ryan Cochrane of Canada.
Women’s 400m Medley Relay: Rachel Bootsma, Breeja Larson, Clair Donahue and Jessica Hardy qualified as the fourth seed for the Americans in yesterday’s prelims of the women’s 400m medley relay. Their splits are as follows: Bootsma, 59.70, RT .60; Larson, 1:06.66, RT .31; Donahue 58.05, RT .47 and Hardy, 54.47, RT .23. Look for Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer to swim the back, breast and fly legs for the U.S. tonight. Franklin and Vollmer were the gold medalists in the 100 back and 100 fly, respectively, with Vollmer setting a world record in the fly. Soni was the silver medalist in the 100 breast by eight-hundredths of a second. The final line-up will be determined at the start of tonight’s finals.
Men’s 400m Medley Relay: Nick Thoman, Eric Shanteau, Tyler McGill and Cullen Jones are the top seeds in tonight’s finals of the men’s 400m medley relay. Their splits are as follows: Thoman, 53.31, RT .65; Shanteau, 59.69, RT .29; McGill, 51.53, RT .35; Jones, 48.12, RT .37. The Americans’ most likely line-up going into tonight’s finals will be Matt Grevers, Brendan Hansen, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian. Grevers, Phelps and Adrian all took gold in the 100-meter races of their respective strokes. Hansen won bronze in the breaststroke. The Americans have never lost this relay in Olympic competition.