LONDON – Michael Phelps stepped out of an Olympic pool for the final time on Saturday night, but not before earning one last gold medal.
Phelps swam the butterfly leg as the United States won the 400-meter medley relay at the London Aquatic Centre. The winning time of 3 minutes 29.35 seconds missed tying the Olympic record by a hundredth of a second, but Phelps did not seem to care. He waited with his teammates Matt Grevers and Brendan Hansen for the relay’s final swimmer, the freestyler Nathan Adrian, to complete the race, then wrapped all three in a hug.
The medal was Phelps’s 22nd over all, the most by any Olympian; his 18th gold; and his 6th in London. Phelps’s week has been something of a farewell tour, marked at different times by sadness or smiles, memories and melancholy. He has seemed to soften around the edges, letting people into a life so long closed to outsiders as he pursued swimming history, but he never lost his edge.
Taking over after Hansen’s breaststroke leg Saturday, he dove into the pool with the United States in second place and clambered out with the Americans safely back in the lead. Japan won the silver in 3:31.26, holding off Australia.
Just another swim. Just another gold.
U.S. Women Set World Record in Medley
With a gold medalist swimming every leg, the United States set a world record in the women’s 400-meter medley relay to cap a dominant Games for American women.
Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt – all of whom have won multiple medals in London – finished in 3 minutes 52.05 seconds, breaking the mark set three years ago by a Chinese team.
Franklin, who won the 100- and 200-meter backstroke golds, challenged the American record in the opening leg before Soni – the 200 breaststroke champion – widened it. Vollmer got the Americans under world-record pace in the butterfly leg and Schmitt, who replaced Jessica Hardy on the relay team, steamed home in the freestyle.
The four Americans in the race combined to win 16 medals. The United States medaled in 13 of 16 women’s events over all, winning eight of them.
After False Start Scare, Sun Breaks World Record
It was the best do-over of the London Games.
Overcoming an apparent false start that could have led to his disqualification, Sun Yang of China climbed out of the pool, gathered himself, dove back in and smashed his world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Sun’s time of 14 minutes 31.02 seconds was more than three seconds faster than the record he set at the world championships in Shanghai last year.
Ryan Cochrane of Canada won the silver, but finished more than eight seconds behind Sun in 14:39.63. Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, the defending Olympic champion, took the bronze.
Most in the London Aquatics Centre expected the 20-year-old Sun to win the gold; he was the world champion in the event, and had earlier taken gold in the 400 freestyle in this meet. That was why his jumping the gun in the 1,500 final – an unnecessary risk in a race that lasts more than 15 minutes – left the crowd murmuring in surprise.
Officials made no move to remove him from the race, however, and after a brief delay – and a warning to the crowd for silence at the start — he and the rest of the field returned to the blocks.
From there it was no contest. At 6 feet 6 inches, and with arms like an N.B.A. shotblocker and paddles for hands, Sun glided through the water with ease, taking as many as 10 fewer strokes on each lap as Cochrane and Mellouli and another prerace favorite, Tae-Hwan Park of South Korea, struggled in vain to keep pace.
Coasting for most of the race, Sun turned up his kick in the final 100 meters, churning the water in his wake like a motorboat engine. When he got to the wall he sat atop the lane rope and pounded the water with his fists. His celebration soaked the legs of the lane judges behind him until the moment seemed to hit him and he suddenly stopped, sank back into his lane and dissolved into tears.
Double for Dutchwoman
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands completed swimming’s sprint double, adding the 50-meter freestyle gold medal to the one she won in the 100 less than 24 hours earlier.
Kromowidjojo, 21, set an Olympic record in each swim. Her time in the 50 of 24.05 seconds broke the mark set by the defending champion, Britta Steffen of Germany, who finished fourth in Saturday’s race.
Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus, who took silver behind Kromowidjojo in the 100, did the same in the 50, finishing in 24.28. Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands was third in 24.39.
(Via NYT > Home Page)