2012 London Olympics: Christian Sprenger Leads Swift 100 Breast Prelims, Two-Time Defending Champion Kosuke Kitajima Second

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LONDON, England, July 28. WITH 12 sub-minute times this morning, it certainly took a strong swim in the men's 100-meter breaststroke qualifying round to make semifinals tonight in the 2012 London Games.

Australia's Christian Sprenger posted the top time from the morning with a 59.62, and is both looking to upset two-time defending champion Kosuke Kitajima, but also to become the first Australian gold medalist in the event. Actually, Australia has never finished higher than bronze in the men's 100 breast. Peter Evans (1980, 1984) and Phil Rogers (1992) are the only other Aussies to medal in the event.

“I wanted to go in there and do a solid time and I got a personal best,” Sprenger said. “I think my stroke fell apart towards the end. My goal in this race was to make it into the final. If I get into the final that would be great.”

Kitajima, meanwhile, clocked a 59.63 for the second seed heading into semis. With two wins under his belt the past two years, the only man to do so in the event's history, he has a strong chance to become the first man to win three straight Olympic golds in the same event. That is, if Michael Phelps doesn't shakes off his eighth-seeded time in the men's 400 IM this morning to claim his third in a row.

“It's good for a first race,” Kitajima said. “I can swim at a really high level so I will try to improve for the semifinals. I don't feel any pressure. I'm here to enjoy myself.”

Kitajima also commented on the fact that 2008 silver medalist Alexander Dale Oen of Norway is not at the meet after suffering an untimely death earlier this year.

“Everyone is feeling sad [about Alex not being here],” Kitajima said.

Lithuania's Giedrius Titenis put on a show in the sixth-of-six heats as well, posting a 59.68, while Hungary's Daniel Gyurta clocked a fourth-seeded 59.76. New Zealand's Glenn Snyders (59.78), South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh (59.79), Canada's Scott Dickens (59.85) and Japan's Ryo Tateishi (59.86) rounded out the top eight.

Great Britain's Michael Jamieson (59.89), USA's Brendan Hansen (59.93), USA's Eric Shanteau (59.96) and Italy's Fabio Scozzoli (59.99) also broke a minute in the morning, while Great Britain's Craig Benson (1:00.04), Australia's Brenton Rickard (1:00.07), Brazil's Felipe Silva (1:00.38) and Brazil's Felipe Lima (1:00.57) also made their way to the semis.

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