Olympic Swimming Highlights 2012: Nathan Adrian's Breakthrough Performance

Kevin AbblittCorrespondent IIIAugust 2, 2012

Gold medal never felt so good
Gold medal never felt so goodJohn David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Phelps? No. Ryan Lochte? No. Nathan Adrian? Who? 

On a day that didn’t feature the most decorated Olympic athlete, Nathan Adrian stole the Day 5 headlines.   

If you don’t know the name, then it would be wise for you to familiarize yourself with him.

The race was memorable on both individual and national scales. Individually, Adrian raked in his first Olympic gold medal. He also chipped into the colorful array of 18 total team medals, and on a larger scale, the victory helped elevate the red, white and blue’s resume regarding the 100-meter freestyle.

The USA haven’t stood atop the podium in the event since the 1988 Olympics. Adrian made sure to reroute the misleading direction and end the threatening quarter-century drought. 

When center stage came calling, Adrian stood up to the plate and belted one out of the park. He clocked in at 47.52 seconds, which was good enough to reach a personal best time. 

He didn’t just win, but the field of competition he defeated was the most impressive. Does the name Yannick Agnel ring a bell? Just ask Ryan Lochte, he will tell you. 

Still not impressed? How about the name James “the Missile” Magnussen? Michael Cowley of the Sydney Morning Herald went as far as pinning Magnussen as unbeatable heading into London in the 100-meter freestyle.

The stunning performance helped Adrian elevate himself to the second tier in the sport. Unfortunately, Magnussen's career will have to be put on hold for another four years.

Adrian edged Magnussen by the narrowest of margins;.01 seconds was all that separated gold from silver. You may not be able to compete a blink in that time frame, but you can sure spark a future. 

It was supposed to be the race of the Olympics for Australia. Looking back, it is never wise to prematurely tally a victory before it has begun. It's the Olympics. Anything is possible.

Magnussen will have to play the waiting game before he can get a taste of redemption. Until then, let the stars and stripes fly high because Wednesday was a tone-setting day for USA in the pool.