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LONDON, England, August 2. GEORGE Bovell kicked off the sixth day of swimming at the 2012 London Olympics in a big way with an Olympic textile best in the 50 free.
Bovell, in heat six of eight, blasted a time of 21.77. That swim eclipsed the Olympic textile best of 21.91 posted by Alexander Popov in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games. Bovell, who swims for Trinidad & Tobago, is vying for Olympic hardware for the second time in his career. He took third in the 200 IM at the 2004 Athens Games, and has competed in the last four Olympics.
Brazil's Cesar Cielo, the defending Olympic champion in the event, finished second in 21.80 with teammate Bruno Fratus placing third in 21.82. Cielo is looking to continue the tradition in the event of swimmers successfully defending their titles. Since Matt Biondi won the first iteration of the event in 1988, Popov (1992, 1996) and Gary Hall Jr. (2000, 2004) have posted title defenses.
“It was hard to sleep last night after the race (100m freestyle) because it was so late,” Cielo said. “This morning I was more concerned with making enough effort to make it back. It's a matter of racing now and getting faster tonight and making sure I get a spot in the final. I did just enough to get to the semis. It wasn't a very intense swim. Tonight I will swim at my best and make sure I get to the final.”
USA's Anthony Ervin, who tied for gold with Hall in 2000 with a 21.98, posted his Olympic best with a 21.83 to advance to the semifinal rounds as well. Ervin returned to the sport after a 12-year hiatus, and made the U.S. Olympic squad with a surprise run in Omaha.
“It was good. I had some first race jitters,” Ervin said. “Hopefully I can make that (to win a medal) happen in the next two swims. It is part of the human experience to push and push what we think is possible.”
South Africa's Roland Schoeman (21.92) and USA's Cullen Jones (21.95) qualified fifth and sixth. Schoeman is looking for a return to the podium after a bronze in 2004.
“I've been feeling good ever since the relay,” Schoeman said. “It's good to come out and get that one under my belt.”
Russia's Andrey Grechin, Ukraine's Andrii Govorov and France's Florent Manaudou all tied for seventh with matching 22.09s, while Australia's James Magnussen checked in with a 10th-place 22.11. Italy's Luca Dotto and South Africa's Gideon Louw tied for 11th with 22.12s.
“To be totally honest the last thing I wanted to do was to get up and swim again [after his second-place finish in the 100 free],” Magnussen said. “No, I didn't sleep. I don't think I've really had the chance to come to grips with it yet. I had a chance to sit back last night and think about what happened. All I wanted to do after the race is see my parents, you start to get a realisation of what's important. It was an important part of my life that race last night.”
In response to a question on whether his facial hair led to him finishing .01 seconds behind Nathan Adrian in the 100 free last night:
“It's ridiculous. I've always raced with it.”
Canada's Brent Hayden (22.15), Hungary's Krisztian Takacs (22.19), Romania's Norbert Trandafir (22.22) and Australia's Eamon Sullivan (22.27) all made the semifinals as well. The semifinals proved to be all about the veterans as the youngest qualifier was Govorov at 20, with two 30 year olds (Ervin, Schoeman) as well as a slew of 25-and-ups made the final 16.
2008 silver medalist Amaury Leveaux missed semifinals with a an 18th-place 22.35.
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