"I think the best place for me is to be the fourth-grader on the playground, oblivious to it all," said Adrian after his gold-medal win in the 100 freestyle.

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LONDON — Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian took out the Missile by a fingertip.

Adrian, a 23-year-old largely overshadowed by American stars such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, made a name for himself by winning the 100-meter Olympic freestyle Wednesday. He lunged to the wall to edge James “The Missile” Magnussen by one-hundredth of a second — the slightest margin possible — and again deny Australia its first individual swimming gold of the London Games.

Adrian pounded the water, then put his hands over his eyes while dangling over the lane rope, as if he couldn’t believe the “1” beside his name. Magnussen hung at the end of the pool, staring straight ahead at the wall in disbelief, the wall he got to just a fraction of a second too late.

“It’s not who swims the fastest time this year,” said Adrian, a not-so-subtle dig at Magnussen posting the best time ever in a textile suit back in March. “It’s who can get their hands on the wall first here.”

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Adrian was on top of the world after touching in 47.52, giving the U.S. its first title in swimming’s signature event since Matt Biondi at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Canada’s Brent Hayden took bronze in 47.80, his country’s first medal ever in the furious down-and-back sprint.

Adrian said he would have been delighted to win a silver medal. The soft-spoken Adrian said he followed Phelps’ suggestion that the Americans let their results speak for themselves this time around, and he was ambivalent about whether the trash talk had motivated him.

“Yes and no,” he said. “I honestly tried not to think about any of that. I think the best place for me is to be the fourth-grader on the playground, oblivious to it all.”

Adrian and Magnussen exchanged good wishes on the way out of a news conference. Adrian then turned to Twitter to thank his friends and family for their support, mindful that some might have been waiting to watch the tape-delayed NBC broadcast.

“Spoiler alert,” Adrian tweeted. “I win :-)”

American women win 4×200 relay

The Aussies took another bitter defeat in the final event of the evening, again to their American rivals as Allison Schmitt chased down Alicia Coutts for gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay.

Schmitt dived in the water about a half-second behind but passed Coutts on their first return lap and won going away in 7 minutes, 42.92 seconds. The Australians settled for another silver in 7:44.41, while France took the bronze.

Schmitt is turning into one of the biggest American stars of the games, picking up her second gold to go along with a silver and a bronze. Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin also claimed her second gold swimming the leadoff leg, and Dana Vollmer now has two golds in London. Shannon Vreeland rounded out the gold medal-winning quartet.

“Allison is a fighter and she can push through anything,” Franklin said. “We had total faith in her.”

Like the Aussies, the record book also took quite a beating.

Daniel Gyurta and Rebecca Soni both set world records in the 200 breaststroke. The Hungarian won gold, while Soni set her mark in a semifinal heat, further proof that it’s still possible to go fast — really fast — even without the now-banned bodysuits. Five records have fallen over the first five days at the Olympic Aquatics Centre, defying those who felt it would take years, maybe even decades, to take down some of the marks set with technological assistance.

“If I feel good, I don’t want to hold back. I shouldn’t,” Soni said. “I just went for the last 50 and I started to hear the crowd halfway through and just kept going with it.

“It’s been four years since I swam close to that fast, so it’s great to be back on top like that.”


• Australia, which normally battles with the Americans for pool supremacy, has eight medals but its only gold came in the women’s 4×100 free relay. The Americans are pulling away in the medal table with eight golds and 18 medals overall.

Jiao Liuyang of China set an Olympic record to win the women’s 200 butterfly. She was second at the final turn but sprinted into the lead to touch in 2:04.06 seconds, 0.12 quicker than countrywoman Liu Zige‘s time at the 2008 Beijing Games.

• On the way to the pool Wednesday, Phelps got a call from President Barack Obama, congratulating him on becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

• Lochte posted the second-fastest time in the backstroke semis (1:55.40) and then, in the IM, he was fastest (1:56.13).

Two medals
Nathan Adrian won medals in both of his swimming events at the London Games.
Event Medal Time
100 free Gold 47.52
4×100 free relay Silver 47.89 1st leg
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