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LONDON, England, July 29. MATT Grevers, the defending silver medalist in the event, is looking to upgrade that medal and looked strong in preliminary qualifying of the men's 100 back at the 2012 London Olympics.
Grevers turned in a 52.92 to lead all preliminary swimmers in the event. He went out in 25.57, under Olympic record pace, and kept going strong into the wall with his swim. Grevers took second to world-record holder Aaron Peirsol at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and could become only the second swimmer ever in the event to upgrade a silver to gold the following year. Jeff Rouse is the only person to have done so in the men's 100 back in Olympic history, having taken silver in 1992 behind Mark Tewksbury of Canada before winning in 1996.
“Everybody was swimming lights-out, and there's always going to be new faces coming up, new people,” Grevers said. “You can't take making the finals for granted, so I'm going to have to work pretty hard tonight.”
China's Cheng Feiyi finished second in 53.22 just behind Grevers in the event. With Sun Yang already overhauling Olympic records for the Chinese men, Cheng would like nothing more than to continue adding on more hardware. Heading into this meet, Zhang Lin was the only Chinese man to have ever medaled, with a silver in 2008.
USA's Nick Thoman posted a 53.48 in heat four of six, for the early top-seed lead. Should he and Grevers pull off a 1-2 after making it through finals, it would keep up a theme in the event with a single country winning the top two medals. It has happened 10 previous times, including 2008's Peirsol-Grevers 1-2.
“I had to focus on racing as fast as possible,” Thoman said. “I can't take it too easy. I got ahead of the heat and now I am third so I am pretty happy with that. It is the biggest crowd I have ever swam for. I knew I was in a pretty good spot so I wasn't that nervous. I am going to have to look out for new people. You cannot take the finals for granted.”
France's Camille Lacourt (53.51), Japan's Ryosuke Irie (53.56), The Netherlands' Nick Driebergen (53.62), Germany's Helge Meeuw (53.83) and Great Britain's Liam Tancock (53.86) picked up the rest of the top eight finishes.
“It was my first race so I didn't know what it would be like, I was a bit nervous,” Irie said. “I kept the pace with the other swimmers. I am expected as a winner, so I need to do my best at the semifinal.”
Defending bronze medalists Hayden Stoeckel (53.88) and Arkady Vyatchanin (54.01) qualified ninth and 10th, while Russia's Vlad Morozov (54.01), Germany's Jan-Philip Glania (54.07), Canada's Charles Francis (54.08), New Zealand's Gareth Kean (54.26), Australia's Daniel Arnamnart (54.28) and Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer Faber (54.36) also earned their way into the semifinal heats.
Morozov later announced that he would be scratching the event to focus on Russian relay duty in the 400 freestyle relay. Once the start list is final for semis, that should move Greece's Aristeidis Grigoriadis up from his 17th-place 54.52.
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