LONDON — Former Cal swimmer Nathan Adrian claimed the title of the world’s fastest man on water when he won the 100-meter freestyle gold medal by a fingernail at the London Olympics on Wednesday.
American teenager Missy Franklin then captured her second gold medal of the games on a dramatic night of swimming that saw two world records broken at the Aquatic Centre.
In a desperate finish to the 100 freestyle sprint, Adrian got his fingers on the wall ahead of Australian world champion James Magnussen by 0.01 seconds, the closest margin to a dead-heat in Olympic swimming.
It was impossible to split the pair with the naked eye, but Adrian, the first American to win swimming’s premier event in nearly a quarter of a century, was awarded the gold in a time of 47.52 seconds with Magnussen second in 47.53.
Canada’s Brent Hayden was third in a classic race where the eight finalists were separated by less than a second.
“I almost started crying in the water. This is something that happens every four years,” said Adrian, the first American to win the event since Matt Biondi in 1988. “It’s not who swims the fastest time this year, but it’s who can get their hands on the wall first here tonight.”
Magnussen went into the Olympics as the favorite after winning the world title last year and boasting that he would win but said he had learned a painful lesson.
“I just felt pretty much bulletproof coming into this Olympics and it is very humbling,” he said.
Franklin, her excitement already overflowing after she received a personal tweet from Canadian singer Justin Bieber, enhanced her status as the new queen of the pool when she teamed up with former Cal swimmer Dana Vollmer, Shannon Vreeland and Allison Schmitt to win the 4x200 freestyle relay, ahead of Australia and France.
The 17-year-old, appearing in her first Olympics, also won gold in the 100 backstroke and a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay and is not finished yet.
The U.S. have dominated the swimming events in London, winning medals in 17 of the 20 finals decided so far.
China’s Jiao Liuyang stormed home on the last lap to win the women’s 200 butterfly, while Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta broke the world record to win the 200 breaststroke final.
American Rebecca Soni reclaimed her world record in the women’s 200 breaststroke, with a time of 2:20 in her semifinal.