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LONDON, England, August 2. THE Netherlands' Ranomi Kromowidjojo flipped fourth, but touched first en route to an Olympic record in the women's 100-meter freestyle finale at the 2012 London Olympics.
Kromowidjojo clocked a sterling time of 53.00, besting the Olympic record of 53.12 clocked by Germany's Britta Steffen to win the event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She came up a bit short of her lifetime best of 52.75 from this summer, which stands as the textile best. The win gave Kromowidjojo, the cover girl of July's issue of Swimming World Magazine, her first individual Olympic medal, and second gold in the past two Olympics as her 400 free relay won in 2008. She also has a silver from the same relay this week. She is only the third swimmer from her country to win the sprint title. Rie Mastenbroek first won gold for The Netherlands with a 1:05.9 at the 1936 Berlin Games. Inge de Bruijn then topped the 2000 event in 53.83 before taking silver in 2004 behind Jodie Henry, 53.84 to 54.16.
“It will take a while before it all sinks in,” Kromowidjojo said. “It wasn't a perfect race, but I know that I feel very strong in the water. I didn't see how the others were doing, but I just paid attention to how I was swimming and I swam very fast. I turned as fourth, but I touched as the first one and that's the main purpose. It's something you dream of as a child. People that are sitting in front of the TV now – half of the Netherlands are probably partying hard.”
Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia went out under world-record pace at the 50 with a 25.22 before holding on to win silver in 53.38. That swim cleared her personal best of 53.45 that won her a shared world title at the 2011 World Championships. Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen Gray also tied for the title, but finished seventh tonight in 53.75. The silver is Herasimenia's first Olympic medal, after taking eighth in the 50 free in Beijing. Herasimenia has bounced back after serving a two-year suspension from 2003 to 2005 for testing positive for norandrosterone.
“I wanted gold,” Herasimenia said. “I was on the first lane, so it was hard to keep track of the other competitors, but maybe that was good. I've still got my 50 metres (freestyle) race tomorrow.”
China's Tang Yi clinched bronze with a 53.44, off her personal record of 53.28 from earlier in the meet. That's her first Olympic medal as well, having taken fourth twice as part of China's 400 free relay the past two Olympiads.
Australia's Melanie Schlanger wound up fourth in 53.47, while USA's Missy Franklin placed fifth in 53.64 in her fifth event of the meet. She still has the 200 back finale and 400 medley relay to come as part of her ambitious seven-event slate. Great Britain's Fran Halsall (53.66) and USA's Jessica Hardy (54.02) also competed in the finale.
“I'm learning how to pace myself still,” Hardy said. “I'm bummed with my finish, and definitely will take my frustrations into tomorrow's 50 metre (freestyle heat) I think. But the fact that I had a good first 50 metres bodes well, so I'm excited for that.”
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