“That’s as fast as I can go right now, and I’m really pleased with the outcome,” Hansen said.
Kitajima didn’t find the speed he needed, struggling home in fifth at 59.79. The night before, Phelps failed in his bid to win a third straight 400 IM title, fading to fourth while Lochte took gold with a dominating performance.
Van der Burgh propped himself on the lane rope, his chest heaving up and down, his hands cupped behind his head, a big smile on his face. He looked up toward the roof and pointed, a nod to his good friend, Alex Dale Oen, the world champion in this event who died suddenly in April from cardiac arrest.
“I just have to pay tribute to Alex Oen,” van der Burgh said. “I know that he’s been with me this year and helped me to finish the race in such a strong manner. If there is such a thing as a perfect race for me, I definitely think that I submitted it tonight. I don’t even care about the world record. Once you become an Olympic champion, you join the club.”
Lu Ying gave China another medal, taking silver behind Vollmer in 56.87. Australia’s Alicia Coutts grabbed the bronze in 56.94. It was a tough night for Sjostrom, who not only lost her world record but didn’t even get a medal, touching fourth in 57.17.
Muffat and Schmitt raced side by side the whole way in the 400 free, with Muffat clinging tenaciously to the lead while the American tried desperately to reel her in. She couldn’t pull it off, as Muffat touched in 4 minutes, 1.45 seconds to win by a scant 0.32. Adlington was looking to defend her Olympic title in the event, but the big crowd seemed pleased that she rallied from a sluggish start to at least make the podium.
“I saw them guys. They were off. I just couldn’t keep with them,” Adlington said. “To be honest, I am so happy I managed to sneak that medal. … Another Olympic medal is just unbelievable, and there is not an ounce of disappointment in me.”
The same couldn’t be said for the American men’s relay team.
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