Aug 08

Swimming: Rebecca gets gold!

TMFD/7 comments • 406 views

You’ve probably seen the headlines already – in the early hours of this morning Britain’s Rebecca Adlington won the 400m freestyle, making her the first women’s swimming medallist since 1984 and the first women’s gold since 1960! She paced it perfectly, even if the finish was a bit nail-bitingly close for us bleary-eyed viewers at home.

Here’s a short clip of the last length. Katie Hoff (USA) is leading in lane 3, Adlington is in lane 5 (the upper yellow one). Look how Adlington suddenly zooms up from metres behind in the last 25m, and just touches out Hoff at the last inch:


Awesome stuff. Her teammate Jo Jackson had a superb swim as well to nab the bronze, and together their efforts have definitely lifted the British squad’s spirits after a hesitant start. The men’s 4×100 freestyle relay team put in a sterling effort to make the final (they only decided to bother fielding a team at all at the very last minute), and came within a couple of tenths of a second of the previous world record set by the American B-team in Sunday’s heats. Yes, the B-team. The A-team (Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak) knocked another four seconds off it again in the final, which is a staggering time, but even without a clock the race itself was a joy to watch (BBC video link). Somehow Lezak caught up Alan Bernard, who must have thought he had it sewn up. You really feel sorry for the French, but it means that Phelps’ eight golds target is still on track.

So what else has been going on in the pool? Well, world records have been tumbling all over the shop and there have been plenty of upsets for the Americans who aren’t in a ‘Phelps’ event:

Men’s 400m freestyle: Tae Hwan Park (KOR)
Women’s 400m freestyle: Rebecca Adlington (GBR)
Men’s 100m breaststroke: Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) – World Record
Women’s 100m butterfly: Libby Trickett (AUS) – Olympic Record
Women’s 400m Individual Medley: Stephanie Rice (AUS) – World Record
Women’s 4×100 freestyle relay: Netherlands – Olympic Record

The Americans were pretty much favourites for all of these events except the 100m butterfly and certainly expected to win most of them. Hard luck! The rest of the world is finally catching up with the USA. :)

Coming up tomorrow we have Hannah Miley and Keri-Anne Payne going in the semi-finals of the 200m Individual Medley, Caitlin McClatchey and Jo Jackson in the 200m freestyle semis, and Gemma Spofforth and Liam Tancock in the women’s and men’s 100m backstroke finals respectively. In recent Olympiads it’s been a rare sight to see a Brit in the final for anything, but right now you can see the confidence dripping off the British swimmers – they no longer seem intimidated by having world record holders or multi-medallists in the lane next to them, and are knocking seconds off their best times (except Rebecca – in her post-victory interview the first coherent thing she said was ‘I’m a bit disappointed with my time”). You can tell that the trusty BBC commentary duo of Andy Jameson and Adrian Moorhouse are having trouble keeping their excitement to a professional level as they watch.

So by all rights Team GB should bag themselves a few more medals by the end of the week! Let’s hope your correspondent isn’t suffering too much from sleep deprivation to bring you all the latest poolside action…


  1. 1
    Mark G on 11 Aug 2008 #

    first women’s Swimming gold since 1960, right?

    as it’s only the first women’s gold since yesterday, right?

  2. 2
    Erithian on 12 Aug 2008 #

    One suspects that if it hadn’t been for the, er, special nature of the East German training programme that gap wouldn’t have been 48 years, as Sharron Davies for one might have picked up a gold in the intervening period. I felt a bit sorry for her yesterday, and it’s not often I’ve been able to say that.

  3. 3
    katstevens on 12 Aug 2008 #

    Yep – poor old Sharron got denied a gold by Petra Schneider, who was TEN SECONDS ahead of her. Petra has admitted since that she was part of State Plan 14:25, but they haven’t taken her medal away as if they started doing that for everyone affected by the East Germans there would hardly be anyone left to give them to. Also, what with the boycotts in 80 and 84 the results are kind of nonsensical anyway – Sharron would have had a tough job beating the USA’s Tracey Caulkins had she been racing in Moscow.

  4. 4
    Andrew F on 12 Aug 2008 #

    Apparently East German swimmer Carola Nitschke did ask for her name to be struck from the record books to, er, no effect.

  5. 5
    Pete on 12 Aug 2008 #

    I’m sure we could club together to get her a black pen so she can strike it out herself.

  6. 6
    Erithian on 14 Aug 2008 #

    The ONLY non-East German to win a women’s swimming gold in Moscow was Australia’s Michelle Ford, who was at school with a friend of mine. They met up twenty years later at a school reunion, and I asked my friend whether she’d asked Michelle what it was like being in the pool alongside a large-scale chemical experiment. “No,” she said, “all we talked about was what a terrible dentist her father was.”

  7. 7

    I can but echo the feels of my esteemed fellow poster at #7

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