Only three medals were handed out on night four of the competition but there was still plenty of action going on in the pool. Fans were treated to four semi finals as part of the night’s action including the men’s 100m freestyle which featured world champion James Magnussen returning to form after a disastrous performance in the 4×100 relay on day 2.
WOMEN’S 200m FREESTYLE
In the first final of the night, American swimmer Allison Schmitt blitzed the field with an impressive swim that broke the Olympic record time. Schmitt finished in 1:53.61 well ahead of her nearest rival, France’s Camille Muffat who was 1.97 seconds behind Schmitt. It was a flipped result of the 400m freestyle from day 2 where Muffat prevailed ahead of Schmitt. Winning the bronze was Australia’s Bronte Barratt who had posted the best qualifying time for the final. Barratt edged out American teen sensation Missy Franklin by the slimmest of margins for the final spot on the podium.
MEN’S 200m BUTTERFLY
Once again, the person who won the gold medal in this event from Beijing failed to defend their title in London. This time though, the defending champion came pretty damn close as Michael Phelps was forced to accept the silver medal after being pipped at the line. It was Phelps’s 18th overall Olympic medal and while he would have liked to have become the most successful Olympian ever with gold, his career will certainly stand up as one of the all time great stories in swimming. South African Chad le Clos was the one who denied Phelps the chance to break the Olympic record with a gold medal winning the race in 1:52.96 in an African record time. Takeshi Matsuda rounded out the medals finishing just a quarter of a second behind le Clos while the rest of the field finished a fair way behind. Not that it was for anything but the race for fifth turned out to be incredibly close as the final four swimmers were separated by a mere 0.12 seconds.
WOMEN’S 200m INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
What an Olympic Games it has been for breakout Chinese superstar Shiwen Ye who has gone two for two so far in her events winning this one in an Olympic record time of 2:07.57 for her second gold medal of the games. What has been very sad is that some Olympic commentators have brought into question Ye’s achievements questioning whether or not she is on performance enhancing drugs. The 16 year old has handled the criticism admirably thus far deflecting all possible suggestions that she may be anything less than clean. While China’s history of swimming success is not always perfect, this may just be a case of he being punished for her predecessors mistakes. Silver medallist Alicia Coutts from Australia lept to the defense of her fellow swimmer, Coutts claimed the silver medal just over half a second behind Ye. American Caitlin Leverenz won bronze beating out 2008 winner Stephanie Rice in what could be the last race for the Australian who said (in the heat of the moment) after the race that she was thinking of retirement. More than the breakout swimmers we see at every Olympics, what has stood out so far was the intense pressure and speculation placed on the medal hopes such as Phelps, Rice and Magnussen and how they have so far failed to respond to the pressure.