Nathan Adrian winning the 100 meters freestyle in the Olympic games officially makes him the fastest swimmer in the world, a fraction of a second faster than the World champion of Australia, James Magnussen, continuing a proud tradition of Americans holding that honor.
The fastest time ever recorded in the 100 freestyle is 46.91, done by Brazilian and 50 meters specialist César Cielo of Brazil, the guy who tends to cry when he wins a medal the moment the national anthem starts playing. That’s a suit era record, and Cielo also tested positive for PEDs in 2011. He’s racing in these Olympic games, hoping to defend his gold from the 50, but that puts a whole new kind of light on his record. Moreso, no Olympic champion has went on to win this event in the world championships since Alexander Popov in 1996 and 1998.
That’s quite an accomplishment to match, but maybe the young American, who wasn’t considered that much of a medal prospect a few weeks earlier, can see this as a chance to carve his name in the history of the event, the sport, and the Olympic games.
Adrian is the 11th American to pick up the 100 gold, and will probably in the running for the 50 although he does have a stronger second half of the race. The Americans don’t even hold trials for the 50 freestyle, just sending their best 100 swimmers to that event. Adrian is also the first American to pick up gold at this event since Matt Biondi in Seoul.
In the world Championships Americans haven’t won this event since Anthony Ervin did in 2001. The former Olympic champion, Alain Bernard, won the gold four years ago with a 47.21, a faster time than what Adrian needed to win it this time round. Again, they were using the special suits in Beijing. Four years later, no suits, but records are being broken, which makes the decision by the chiefs of global swimming to keep the records achieved during the suit era a little less ridiculous.
Adrian, 23, has a chance to win two more gold medals in London – the 50 meters freestyle and the 4×100 relay, looking like the obvious choice for the Americans to swim the freestyle leg. In an event that quite often sees men repeating their gold medals in the following Olympics, Adrian’s age and the crowded top in this event might suggest that he won’t have a second chance at winning gold and remaining the oficial fastest swimmer alive. No American has repeated gold in this event since Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan, in 1928.