The swimming competition at the London Olympics certainly provided a tremendous amount of exciting moments. Here is a quick list of the top six best swims of the meet:
6. Michael Phelps wins 100m butterfly
After touching seventh at the turn, Phelps surged over the last 50 meters to win by 0.23 seconds. That margin of victory was impressive considering he won by 0.04 in Athens and by 0.01 in Beijing. No other male swimmer had ever won the same event in three straight Olympics before Phelps and this was his second time doing it in London. His terrific meet also included a victory in the 200m IM over Ryan Lochte; who likewise deserves a shout out for his gold-medal performance in the 400m IM.
5. Sun Yang smashes his own world record in 1500m freestyle
After jumping in the pool on a starter’s miscue (and showing clear frustration after having his concentration broken) Sun took complete control of the men’s 1500m. He paced well ahead of his previous world record the entire race, and his final time of 14:31.02 was more than three seconds faster. Adding Sun’s win in the 400m freestyle, and Ye Shiwen’s victories in the 200m and 400m IM made it an incredible meet for the Chinese standouts.
4. U.S. Women break the world record in the 4x100m medley relay
The star-studded medley relay of Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt ended their meet fittingly with a gold medal and a world record. Each member of the relay had already won individual gold in London, and then pulled their strengths to break the world mark by 0.14 seconds. Looking at their individual performances; Soni became the first woman to break 2:20 in the 200m breaststroke, Vollmer was the first ever under 56 seconds in the 100m butterfly, and Schmitt took home five medals.
3. 15-year-old Katie Ledecky wins the 800m free
The youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team took her race out fearlessly ahead of a field that included defending Olympic champion and host favorite, Rebecca Adlington. Ledecky never fell out of the lead after the first 150 meters, posted a new personal best time in her 400m split (4:04.34), and broke Janet Evans’ American Record (the longest standing American record on the books), in finishing with a time of 8:14.63.
2. Missy Franklin breaks world record in 200m back
Missy had an outstanding meet before her 200m backstroke, and then gave a performance in her signature event that put her at a whole new level. Missy swam a near perfect race from start to finish, beating the next closest finisher by 1.86 seconds and shattering the world record by 0.75 seconds. It was stunning to watch how flawlessly the 17-year-old handled the pressure of her first Olympics, and she shone brightest when the most was expected of her.
1. Nathan Adrian wins 100m free by 0.01 seconds.
Adrian slid under the radar in London as most of the attention was paid to reigning world champ James Magnussen and Brazil’s Cesar Cielo. But Adrian stayed close enough to Magnussen early, then edged past him to out-touch the Australian by 0.01 seconds. It wasn’t a new world record, or even an American record, but it was the type of gritty, hard-fought race that makes the sport of swimming worth watching. The pure elation in Adrian’s face after he touched the wall summed up what it means to be an Olympic champion, and made his race the most exciting swim of the London Games.