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2012 London Olympics: Stunning Performances and Legacies Written in the Men's 200 Free_ -- July 30, 2012

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Feature by David Rieder


CHARLESTON, South Carolina, July 30. ANOTHER stunning session has come to a close in London. For starters, take a look at what 200 back Olympic Trials finalist Jacob Pebley had to say about day three and the meet so far overall: "Watching how unpredictable these Olympics are [is] going makes Michael Phelps' '08 8 golds look that much cooler."


Oh yes, anyone trying to predict these Olympics -- including me -- most likely failed miserably. In tonight's first final, Yannick Agnel put on a show and took the gold in 1:43.14, the third-fastest time ever. Before last night's final, that performance would have stunned the swimming community. After his 46.74 split anchoring the 400 free relay, nothing Yannick Agnel does can surprise anyone. He dominated the entire race, and no one else ever had a chance at gold. Agnel enters the 100 free as a favorite for gold after entering as an outside medal chance, and he holds the key to a potential French gold in the 800 free relay.

Yes, that's right, France enters the 800 free relay as a slight favorite over the Americans. Agnel leads a team consisting of 400 free relay stars Clement Lefert and Amaury Leveaux and 200 free semi-finalist Gregory Mallet. The U.S., meanwhile, must count on Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, who finished a very disappointing fourth in the individual 200, along with Ricky Berens and probably Conor Dwyer. That sounds like a ton of firepower, but Phelps and Lochte must put their disappointments this meet behind them for a chance at gold.

What happened to Lochte? He finished fourth in 1:45.03, just behind the pair of Sun Yang and Park Tae Hwan, who dead-heated for second in 1:44.93. Remember, Lochte won the World title last year in 1:44.44. Lochte reportedly put in more and more extra training this year in hopes of a stunning Olympic performance. A fourth place-finish doesn't exactly contribute to that. We'll need to see how Lochte responds, now, in the relay tomorrow and in his two more individual events.

Entering the meet and after the 200 IM, some considered Ryan Lochte "the new Michael Phelps." After a dominating win in the 400 IM in 4:05.13, the entire world jumped onto the Lochte train. Now, though, Lochte finds himself on the outside looking in for one of the glamor events in swimming. That's just four years after Phelps won the 200 free by almost two seconds. Phelps displayed some sort of ridiculous dominance in four individual events before squeaking out the win in another by just one one-hundredth of a second. There's no Michael Phelps of these Olympics. The world may never see one again.

Check out David Rieder's blog for more of his thoughts on the Olympic Games, including a look at Missy Franklin's impressive performance in her two events on day three.


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