Epic Showdowns: 100m Freestyle – London Olympic Games 2012

by SwimSwam Partner Content 6

February 07th, 2017 News

TritonWear  and Swim Swam are bringing you the best in swimming race analysis. With the power of TritonWear, you can have an in-depth analysis of your practice every day with zero effort. Today we are having a closer look of one of the fiercest duels of 2012 London Olympic Games.

It was predicted the men’s 100 freestyle final in 2012 could be the race of the Olympics. Australia had high hopes for James Magnussen, who was seemingly unbeatable heading into London. He’d dominated at World Championships the year prior and set the fastest time ever in a textile suit at the Australian trials with a 47.10.

But doubts were raised after Nathan Adrian of the United States beat Magnusson head-to-head on the opening leg of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay early in the competition. While the Aussie qualified first for the 100m freestyle individual final, Adrian’s potential threatened an upset. Other big contenders in the final included Yannick Agnel, who had come from behind on the anchor leg of the relay to propel France to the top of the podium, and César Cielo of Brazil, who already had a number of international titles under his belt.

The final was hyped to be an epic showdown between multiple competitors, but most of all the Australian favorite and the American underdog. When the beep sounded, the swimmers exploded off the blocks and charged down the pool with high stroke rates and powerful kicks. Adrian’s rate was faster at 1.14 seconds per stroke while Magnusson held 1.25 s/str, giving the American a slight edge.

While the field was nearly dead even for most of the first length, some swimmers began to surge ahead coming into the wall. Known for his front-end speed, Cesar Cielo of Brazil was the first to flip in a time of 22.60. He was followed closely by Brent Hayden of Canada and Nathan Adrian in third position. Adrian flipped faster than anyone else at the front of the pack with a turn time of 0.79, launching him into a strong second length.

Magnusson was two-tenths of a second behind the leaders at the first wall, which was still within striking distance; he blasted ahead with a speed of 2.02 m/s to fight Adrian for the win. The last fifteen meters turned into a dogfight, with no clear leader even as they powered into the wall. Magnusson had the advantage in efficiency, but Adrian held a slightly higher stroke rate that made the difference.

It was Adrian who got his head down at the finish and touched in 47.52, managing to secure the victory by the narrowest of margins: 0.01 seconds. In upsetting “the Missile”, he shattered the hopes of the Aussies and became the first American to win the 100 freestyle since 1988. Touching for bronze was the wildcard Hayden, who also made history in becoming the first Canadian male ever to claim a medal in the 100 freestyle at the Olympics.

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Swimming analysis is courtesy of TritonWear, a SwimSwam partner.



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LOL when I saw the giant Nathan Adrian picture and didn’t look at the title, I was expecting an engagement or wedding planning news…
I also like to know when will be his first meet post Rio?
If I didn’t miss anything, I think Adrian didn’t race since Rio.


Hoping he has more in him. Hasn’t put down a GREAT 50 and 100 at the same meet for a while.
Would like to see him win the 100 again sometime, and age like Ervin. Rio was a good opportunity but Adrian didn’t have the gas to keep with Chalmers. In the 50 I think he could have done with the Gold. Just didn’t execute perfectly.


While Adrian’s swims may not have been his all time best in Rio, I think it is hard to get better than a 21 mid and 47 high at the same time, especially as he ages. The 50 and 100 are sort of “growing apart” in a way. He did also throw down another 46 split in relays.
On the topic of relay splits, how many times has Adrian gone 46 in his career? It seems like he manages to do so pretty consistently at the big meets.


Best relay anchor in the world, bar none. More 46 splits to his name than anyone else. I still think he has the raw talent and the drive to do a 21.1 or 2, and in the 100 I would think 47.4-5, just based on the fact he goes 48.0 in-season like nothing, and he is a very large power based swimmer.

At the same meet? Tough. But not impossible.

Another Swim Nerd

Let’s not forget about Hanser Garcia either- at the time, he had been a competitive swimmer for only two years, leaving the Cuban water polo team to train for the Olympics full-time after a surprisingly quick 100 at a chance meet. If you watch the replay, he gets dominated off the start and turn but is clearly the fastest swimmer on top of the water.

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