The first individual gold medal of Nathan Adrian's career came in rather unexpected fashion at the 2012 London Olympics.
Adrian won the 100-meter freestyle over favorite James Magnussen by touching the wall 0.01 before the man known as "The Missile."
The 23-year-old Washington native had only won a gold medal one time before. It came back in Beijing when he swam the preliminary heat in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
Adrian has always been a great swimmer, but he was never able to collect an individual gold medal until his most recent victory.
Now that he has one to call his own, it speaks volumes for the talent level of American swimming.
Everybody chalked up the United States' dominance in the pool to Michael Phelps' freakish ability to cover so much ground in the water. That's no surprise, as he is one of the greatest Olympians to ever live—if not the greatest.
After Phelps, the American media tried to peg Ryan Lochte as the newest talent in American swimming. Unfortunately, things haven't gone exactly as planned for Lochte. Despite a solid showing in London, he hasn't achieved everything that he surely hoped to this summer.
Nobody has made any mention of Nathan Adrian and his prowess in the 100-meter freestyle. That is, until he beat the man who was supposed to be the best in the world.
Magnussen was heralded as the cream of the crop in the 100-meter freestyle. He had put up some of the fastest times ever and is known as one of the best closers in the sport.
Adrian gave him a taste of his own medicine, though. The two were neck and neck over the final 25 meters, but Adrian touched the wall before the Australian by the slimmest of margins.
This isn't meant as a slight towards Adrian, but he's not the best the United States has to offer. Phelps and Lochte are the two best swimmers in the United States. There's no way around that.
For the United States to put its third best (at best) in the pool against Australia's No. 1 100-meter freestyle swimmer and win is nothing short of a fantastic accomplishment.
The United States swimming program was already known as one of the best in the world, and Adrian's victory serves to cement that notion.