U.S. swimmer Matt Grevers came up short of breaking the world record in the men’s 100-meter backstroke final on Monday at the Olympic Games, but he should nonetheless be completely satisfied with his result. Grevers completed the race in 52.16 seconds, the fastest time in Olympic history, to win the gold medal.
He joins Ryan Lochte, who won gold in the 400 individual medley on Saturday, as the second gold-medal winner among U.S. men’s swimmers in the first three days of competition.
Grevers’ win also completed a double gold for Team USA in the 100 back. Earlier on Monday, Missy Franklin won her first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 100 back with a time of 58.33 seconds.
Grevers came up .22 seconds short of breaking the world-record time, set by former U.S. swimmer Aaron Peirsol in 2009, but his performance was still fantastic. Olympic gold medals mean more than world records, and an Olympic record holds tremendous clout as well.
Monday marked the second consecutive day that Grevers won a medal. On Sunday, he earned a silver medal for his participation in the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay team.
Grevers did not swim in the relay final, but during the qualification round, he swam a fantastic 100-meter split of 47.54 seconds to lead Team USA to a second-place qualification for the final. His split was the fastest among the four members of the relay team during qualification, and it was faster than three of the four U.S. splits in the final.
Grevers’ win on Monday was his second consecutive Olympic medal in the 100 back and his third career Olympic gold. At the 2008 Beijing Games, he finished second to Peirsol in the 100 back. He also earned two gold medals for swimming in preliminaries in both the 4x100 free relay and 4x100-meter medley relay.
Grevers will have a chance to win another gold on Saturday, when he will once again compete in the medley relay. This time, Grevers should be selected to swim the backstroke in the final, where he will have a chance to break the 52-second mark once again in a 100-meter backstroke leg.
The United States’ chance of winning gold in that relay, which will also feature Michael Phelps swimming the butterfly, among others, will be raised significantly by Grevers’ presence as the world’s fastest backstroker.
The medley relay lineup also features Nick Thoman, who will likely have a shot to swim the backstroke in prelims following his own fantastic performance on Monday. Thoman earned the silver medal in the 100 back, finishing second to Grevers with a time of 52.92 seconds.
With Grevers and Thoman taking the top two spots on the podium for the United States, the backstroke duo accomplished a feat that Lochte and Michael Phelps could not in Saturday’s 400 IM: They became the first duo of U.S. swimmers to finish first and second in a final at the 2012 Games.
Grevers has now accomplished the greatest feat of his swimming career to date by winning his first individual Olympic gold. And he could cement his legacy as one of the greatest backstrokers in Olympic history if he can lead the U.S. to another gold in the medley relay final on Saturday.
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Dan Hope is an NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and also a member of B/R’s 2012 Olympics Coverage Team. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Hope.