Olympic Swimming 2012: Why the United States Men's 4x100 Relay Was Disappointing
The United States men's swim team suffered a crushing blow Sunday night when they were upended by the French team in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
The U.S. is the reigning gold medal winner in this event and looked to repeat in London. Although a silver medal is nothing short of a great finish, the U.S. team did not seem quite as content as they should have been.
They are quite possibly the best team in the world, and they were just outperformed by a French team that wanted it more.
The U.S. men were definitely disappointed in themselves, and they were disappointing to many people back home as well, and here's why.
They Were Defending Gold Medalists in the Event
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Although the Australian team may have been the pre-race favorites on paper and the U.S. team wasn't considered much of a threat, the U.S. looked poised to repeat.
The United States won the event just four years ago in Beijing and looked like they were strong enough to compete for the gold medal again.
A team headlined with the names of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, although Lochte doesn't normally swim this event, should be considered a strong contender. This may motivate these American swimmers to medal in their other events and attempt to dominate the Olympics like Michael Phelps did four years ago.
This Could Be Michael Phelps' Last Olympics
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Michael Phelps in an aging American swimming star. He is 27 years old and quite possibly participating in his last Olympic competition.
Phelps took the world by storm four years ago with eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, five of which were in individual events. He has won a total of 17 Olympic medals: 14 gold, 2 bronze and this being his first silver.
The fact is this is his third and most likely last Olympics. Swimming is a short-lived sport for a young swimmer, and Phelps may be the best in his sport in the last 30 years.
This had to be disappointing for him on so many levels, as he won't get another chance at gold in this event. For people back home, they won't get to see him swim in this event again, which is a sad realization.
Ryan Lochte Came Up Short
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Along with Michael Phelps, this may be Ryan Lochte's last Olympics of his career at age 27. He was the anchor in the 4x100 relay for the U.S. squad.
Phelps swam a strong second leg Sunday with a time of 47.15 seconds. Each American swam their leg in under 48 yet came up less than a second short of a gold medal.
Third-leg Cullen Jones held the lead for the American team, making it seem likely that the Americans would hold on with arguably their strongest swimmer as the anchor—until French swimming star Yannick Agnel inched out Lochte in the final meters of the relay.
This cannot all be blamed on Lochte, for he swam at a pace that was on par with the rest of his teammates. However, the anchor is supposed to close it out, especially with a lead. That is the most disappointing part for the American people and their team.