Nathan Adrian: 100-Meter Freestyle Winner Climbs Out of Teammates' Shadows

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIAugust 1, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01:  Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrates after he won the Final of the Men's 100m Freestyle on Day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 1, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Yo, (Nathan) Adrian!

Nathan Adrian pulled off a miraculous win in the 100-meter freestyle in London, edging out Australia's James Magnussen by the slimmest of margins.

The 23-year-old Washington native touched the wall 0.01 seconds before Magnussen to complete one of the biggest upsets that we have seen at these London Games so far.

Magnussen is considered the best 100-meter freestyle swimmer in the world. He's nicknamed "The Missile," after all, and is known as one of the top finishers in the sport.

Adrian and "The Missile" were basically dead even over the last 25 meters, but the former took a page out of the latter's book to steal the gold.

Not only does Adrian's win give him a gold medal to hang around his neck, put on his mantle and show his children, it serves to bring him out of the shadow of his two more prominent teammates.

All we've heard about since the 2004 Athens Games was how great Michael Phelps was. The entire country was captivated by his historic performance in Beijing, in which he won a record-setting eight gold medals.

The next poster boy of American swimming was supposed to be Ryan Lochte. He was said to have the charisma, the likability and the talent to dominate the scene. That hasn't exactly panned out the way everyone thought it would in London, with Lochte winning just one individual gold.

You might know Adrian as the man who aided Phelps in his quest for the record gold total. Back when he was 19, he swam in the preliminary rounds of the 4x100 freestyle relay to pave the way for Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak in Beijing.

We all know what happened in that race.

Even when he was actually able to swim in the final heat and help the Americans win a silver medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle in these Olympics, he played second (or third) fiddle to Phelps and Lochte.

Adrian was awarded a gold medal for his efforts, but it can be nowhere near as satisfying as the one that he now wears around his neck. Back in Beijing, he contributed to the team winning, but he never got to get in the pool for the final race.

In London, though, his dreams were finally realized. Adrian finally has a gold medal to call his own. The first-place finish in Wednesday's 100-meter freestyle is nobody's but his.