In one of the last showcase days for swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics, American athletes Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin hit the pool at London’s aquatic center Friday. Each of them were on a mission to end their individual event schedules with gold medals.
In the 100m butterfly, Phelps trailed at least three swimmers at the turn, and surged toward the finishing wall for the win, at 51.21 seconds. South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who narrowly beat Phelps in the 200m race, took the silver medal, in a tie with Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin. Le Clos had been faster than Phelps in their qualifying heats for the 100.
It was the 17th and final individual Olympic gold medal for Phelps, who has only one more event — the medley relay — left at the London Games. The end of that race will also bring the end of his competitive career.
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET: The finality of the moment seemed to be on Phelps’ mind as he stood on the podium. Immediately after the medal ceremony, Phelps looked a bit distracted as he and the other medalists stayed in place to pose for photographers, all smiling — until someone told Phelps that as the gold medalist, his rightful place was in the middle of the trio.
The swimmers then made their way around the pool, accepting applause and posing for photos, and tossing the bouquets of flowers they’d just received to family members who were watching from the stands.
Our original post continues:
Just before Phelps raced, his U.S. teammate Missy Franklin won her third gold medal of the London 2012 Games and set a new world record of 2 minutes and 4.06 seconds as she won the 200m backstroke. Anastasia Zueva came in second, 1.86 seconds behind Franklin. American Elizabeth Beisel took the bronze, at 2:06.55.
Moments after the men’s butterfly race, American swimmer Katie Ledecky of Bethesda, Md., won the women’s 800m freestyle final and stunned the crowd by dominating a field of talented swimmers.
Ledecky, who at 15 is the youngest member of the U.S. swim team, swam at a world-record pace for much of her race, before finishing just off record time, four seconds ahead of her closest rivals.
Update at 3:22 p.m. ET: In the afternoon’s final race, U.S. swimmer Cullen Jones of Charlotte, N.C., won the silver medal in the men’s 50m freestyle, finishing just behind France’s Florent Manaudou, who clocked in at 21.34. The bronze medal went to Brazilian world record holder Cesar Cielo.
As of the time of this post, the U.S. swim team has a total of 27 medals at the London Games — 14 gold, 7 silver and 6 bronze. China holds the second-place slot, with 4 gold medals and a total of 9 overall.