The final day of swimming at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro got underway in furious splash-and-dash fashion Saturday evening as the women's 50-meter freestyle unfolded in the blink of an eye.
Pernille Blume of Denmark bolted past the field to claim the gold medal with a time of 24.07 seconds, while the United States' Simone Manuel (24.09 seconds) took home silver and Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia (24.11 seconds) found her way to the podium with a bronze-medal effort.
Here's a look at the official results and standings from Saturday night's 50-meter freestyle final:
|Women's 50-Meter Freestyle Results|
|2||Simone Manuel||United States||24.09|
|4||Francesca Halsall||Great Britain||24.13|
And here's an overview of the updated medal count, which continues to feature the United States and China in first and second, respectively:
All eyes were on Manuel following her first-place tie with Canada's Penny Oleksiak in the 100-meter freestyle final, and she delivered with a third Olympic medal on the line, per Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde:
The finish was nearly a dead heat, as the times indicated, but Blume's reach was a tad faster as Manuel put together a brilliant final few meters to slide into second place and back onto the medal stand, as NBC Olympics documented:
However, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Blume bested Manuel with the gold medal on the line.
The 22-year-old recorded the fastest time in qualifying, and the 24.23 seconds that she recorded during the preliminaries represented the fifth-best time in the world this year, per Swimming World Magazine.
Blume's win also represented a changing of the guard in the 50-meter freestyle. While there had been just one back-to-back gold medalist in the event's history (Inge de Bruijn in 2000 and 2004), defending Olympic champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo was a favorite to at least reach the podium.
While Kromowidjojo failed to medal in back-to-back Olympics, Herasimenia succeeded four years after capturing silver in London. Herasimenia appeared to be neck-and-neck with Manuel for second place the whole way, but the American's late burst gave her the slightest of edges.
For Manuel, the 50-meter silver served as confirmation of what has been known ever since she captured gold in the 100-meter freestyle: She's for real, and she's going nowhere.
At 20 years old, Manuel should be a staple in the Olympic medal conversation for years to come as the Americans seek to maintain a stranglehold in every event they can.