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Olympic Swimming Highlights 2012: Most Heart-Pounding Finishes

John RozumCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2012

Olympic Swimming Highlights 2012: Most Heart-Pounding Finishes

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    Photo finishes can tell the story of a race with one glance.

    Each one in a snapshot reveals the excruciating sacrifice these Olympic athletes endure for their moment of glory, as well as the pain and anguish that comes with losing.

    The 2012 Summer Games in London were no different than any previous Olympiad, and the swimming competitions alone lived up to the hype.

    Ahead, we take a look at the most exhilarating and dramatic finishes that embody poetry frozen in motion.

Lithuania's 15-Year-Old Ruta Meilutyte Wins Gold

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    In the final of the women's 100-meter breaststroke, there was Olympic record-holder Leisel Jones of Australia and the defending silver-medalist from Beijing, USA's Rebecca Soni (middle).

    However, Ruta Meilutyte (far left), a 15-year-old from Lithuania, edged Soni by .08 seconds.

    Not even Michael Phelps began his Olympic career in this historic fashion.

Unknown Van Der Burgh Sets World Record

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    It wasn't so much a race against a physical opponent as opposed to time.

    South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh was not even a finalist for the men's 100-meter breaststroke in Beijing, so competing against guys like USA's Branden Hansen and Japan's Kosuke Kitajima for gold would seem almost unfathomable.

    Needless to say, van der Burgh dominated in world-record fashion with a time of 58.46 seconds.

Third Time's a Charm for Hungary's Daniel Gyurta

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    After taking silver in the men's 200-meter breaststroke during the 2004 Athens Games, Hungary's Daniel Gyurta (left) dropped to fifth place at the 2008 Beijing Games.

    That said, a new World Record was needed to take gold in his third 200 breaststroke final and fend off Great Britain's Michael Jamieson (right) by .15 seconds.

Dana Vollmer Flies to World Record

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    After not competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics, USA's Dana Vollmer (middle, leading) entered the London Games as the 100-meter butterfly 2011 World Champion.

    Unsurprisingly, Vollmer kept the momentum going and won gold with a new World Record of 55.98 seconds.

    If you look at each lane in the photo, the Olympians are all in a different part of performing the butterfly stroke:

    Vollmer in the middle, has completed the stroke and is reaching for the wall.

    At the bottom of the photo in lane five, Australia's Alicia Coutts is about to pull herself through the water.

    Above Vollmer in lane six, Jeanette Ottesen Gray of Denmark is beginning the first part of the technique.

Michael Phelps Misses 200 Fly Hat Trick

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    Michael Phelps was the two-time defending gold-medalist in his bread and butter event; the men's 200-meter butterfly.

    Then along came Brazil's Chad le Clos (right). Competing in his first Summer Games, he swam down the best Olympian ever to win by .05 seconds.

    Here, we see le Clos out reach Japan's Takeshi Matsuda (left) who won bronze.

.01 Seconds Becoming American Deja Vu?

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    In order for Nathan Adrian (left) to win the men's 100-freestyle, he would have to beat the current World Champion, James Magnussen (right) of Australia.

    Well, Adrian did it in what's become the norm for Americans taking gold in swimming; by .01 seconds.

China's Ye Shiwen Coasts to World Record at Age 16

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    In arguably the most dominating performance of an individual event, China's Ye Shiwen (leading the pack) set the World Record for the women's 400-meter individual medley at 4:28.43.

    Even more impressively, Ye is just 16 years old. Therefore, we can only anticipate her continuing to slice water in at least a few more Olympiads.

    And be sure to keep checking back, because we'll add in more gut-wrenching finishes as the swimming events progress.

     

    Follow John Rozum on Twitter.

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