Flirting with disaster, defending gold medalist Nathan Adrian of the USA just barely made it out of the preliminary round of the men’s 100 free Tuesday morning. Adrian finished 16th with a time of 48.58, just 0.03 seconds ahead of 17th place and elimination from the event which he won in 2012.
In London, he had the fastest time in the heats, registering a 48.19. He then dipped under 48 in the semis, touching in 47.97, second behind Aussie star James Magnussen‘s 47.63. In a legendary final, Adrian then clipped “The Missile” 47.52 to 47.63.
Speaking after this morning’s race, Adrian put a positive on the race, saying, “It was alright, feeling a little rusty this morning, trying to get back into the meet after a pretty late night the other night. It doesn’t affect anything really, you’re swimming for a lane, and tonight is going to be the same thing, we’re swimming for a lane. Actually, I’m pretty happy to get an outside lane, it’s always nice to get a little clean water, so looking forward to it tonight.”
At least two other medal contenders also were toward the rear of the pack this morning. Italy’s Luca Dotto placed 10th, with a 48.47. Defending world champion Ning Zetao of China was just ahead of Adrian, tying for 14th with a 48.57.
It’s worth noting that Adrian’s time from this morning would have placed him 8th in the heats in 2012, where it took “only” a 48.99 to advance to semifinals.
This morning, by that margin of 0.03, Adrian avoided, at least for another round, becoming yet another London champion who failed to make finals of their gold medal event here in Rio.
On Sunday, France’s Yannick Agnel finished 19th in the prelims of the 200 free, four years after blasting the fastest textile time ever in that event. China’s Ye Shiwen finished 27th in the 400 IM, then watched the final as Katinka Hosszu took down the world record she set en route to a gold medal in 2012. Although her gold medals came in different events, Missy Franklin also failed to make the final of the 200 free, an event where she finished 4th in 2012.