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LONDON, England, August 3. FOR an event so short, there were plenty of storylines to go around in the women's 50-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Netherlands continued to prove just how stocked it is in terms of women's sprint with 100 freestyle victor Ranomi Kromowidjojo (24.51) and Marleen Veldhuis (24.57) qualifying 1-2 in the event. The duo is vying to become the second swimmer from their country to win the event after Inge de Bruijn collected the 2000 and 2004 gold medals.
“I went to bed at 12(midnight) and got up at 7 (a.m.),” Kromowidjojo said. “I was just thinking about gold, gold, gold. It's madness on my Twitter account. Everybody in the Netherlands is so supportive.”
Great Britain's Fran Halsall will be the crowd favorite in the semifinal rounds after qualifying third in 24.61. She is still looking for her first Olympic medal after a sixth-place finish in the 100 and a fifth-place in the 400 free relay. She took fourth in this event at the 2011 World Championships after earning silver in the 100 free at the 2009 World Championships.
“When they said take your marks I kind of looked around. Hopefully, with a proper start, I'll get a faster result,” Halsall said. “If I go a bit faster I'll be happy. That's probably the second fastest I've ever swam in a textile suit. I've got a bit of angry determination going on. I'm confident for this evening. I'm in a very steely and determined mood. I have nothing to lose right now. It's been like a rollercoaster of emotions. When I walked out I felt like a superstar. There are six girls who could get a medal and we're all very close (in time). If I get through to the final, I'm not going to let anyone beat me.”
Defending champion Britta Steffen picked up the fourth seed with a 24.70, and would like to join de Bruijn as the only swimmers to defend a women's 50 free title since its inception at the Olympics at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia, the runner up to Kromowidjojo in the 100 free, clinched the fifth seed in 24.76, while Sweden's Therese Alshammar, 34, shook off a pinched nerve injury to finally compete. She qualified sixth in 24.77 to officially compete in her fifth Olympics. She took second in both the 50 and 100 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but managed only to make semis in the 50 free in 2008.
“I am very pleased to start. I spent the first week with an injury. I feel better,” Alshammar said. “The start is the major concern. I am quite pleased I could go out and start in full speed. You want to have full movement. Being healthy is the most important thing. When you are making sport you want to be able to move unrestricted.”
Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen Gray and Bahama's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace tied for seventh with matching 24.85s, while Australia's Bronte (24.87) and Cate (24.94) Campbell took ninth and 10th. Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom also took 10th with Cate with a 24.94, while USA's Jessica Hardy posted a 12th-place 24.99.
“It was OK. I had a good time but it wasn't as fast as I was hoping to go,” Hardy said. “I'm excited about tonight. It's going to be fun.”
Greece's Theodora Drakou (25.13), Canada's Victoria Poon (25.15) and France's Anna Santamans (25.23) qualified 13th through 15th, while Iceland's Sarah Bateman, USA's Kara Lynn Joyce and Great Britain's Amy Smith setup an exciting threeway swimoff with 16th-place 25.28s.
Smith picked up the victory in the swimoff with a 24.82, while Joyce (25.16) and Bateman (26.03) missed semifinals.
Results links, with splits, when available are located at the bottom of the article. Hit refresh to make sure you have the latest version of the story.
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