Swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 200 metre freestyle
|Men's 200 metre freestyle|
at the Games of the XXX Olympiad
|Venue||London Aquatics Centre|
|Dates||July 29, 2012 (heats &|
July 30, 2012 (final)
|Competitors||40 from 31 nations|
After overhauling the Americans in the 4x100 freestyle relay with a stunning anchor leg, France's Yannick Agnel pulled away from a star-studded field by over a full body length to earn his second Olympic gold in swimming at these Games. Billed as the "Race of the Century", he came up again with a spectacular swim on the final stretch to hit the wall first in 1:43.14, posting a textile best in the process and moving rapidly to third in the world's all time rankings. Meanwhile, South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan and China's Sun Yang tied for the silver medal in a matching time of 1:44.93, following a dramatic rivalry in the 400 m freestyle final two days earlier. Agnel's gold was France's first medal in the men's 200 metre freestyle, with Sun's silver the first for China. Park was the fifth man to win multiple medals in the event, adding to his 2008 silver.
U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, the reigning world champion, missed the podium by 11-hundredths of a second with a fourth-place time in 1:45.04. Germany's world-record holder Paul Biedermann faded down the stretch to pick up a fifth spot in 1:45.53, edging out British home favorite Robbie Renwick by a full body length with a highly-creditable, sixth-place effort (1:46.53). Australia's Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:46.93) and Russia's Danila Izotov (1:47.75) also vied for an Olympic medal to round out the stellar championship field.
Notable swimmers missed out the final roster featuring Lochte's teammate Ricky Berens, who replaced Michael Phelps to fill out the slot for the Americans but placed ninth (1:46.87); and Switzerland's Dominik Meichtry, a sixth-place finalist in Beijing four years earlier, who finished fifteenth in the semifinals (1:48.25).
This was the 14th appearance of the 200 metre freestyle event. It was first contested in 1900. It would be contested a second time, though at 220 yards, in 1904. After that, the event did not return until 1968; since then, it has been on the programme at every Summer Games.
Four of the 8 finalists from the 2008 Games returned: silver medalist Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea, fifth-place finisher Paul Biedermann of Germany, sixth-place finisher Dominik Meichtry of Switzerland, and eighth-place finisher Robbie Renwick of Great Britain. Reigning gold medalist Michael Phelps qualified but elected not to compete in eight events again, dropping this event. Biedermann had won the 2009 World Championship and taken bronze in 2011. American Ryan Lochte was the reigning World Champion. Phelps had placed second both times. Lochte was the favourite without Phelps competing, though Park, Sun Yang of China (the 400 metres champion in London), and Yannick Agnel of France were serious contenders.
Brunei, the Dominican Republic, and Paraguay each made their debut in the event. Australia made its 14th appearance, the only nation to have competed in all prior editions of the event.
Each National Olympic Committee (NOC) could enter up to two swimmers if both met the Olympic Qualifying Time (or "OQT"). An NOC with no swimmers meeting the OQT but at least one swimmer meeting the Olympic Selection Time (or "OST") was not guaranteed a place, but was eligible for selection to fill the overall 900 swimmer quota for the Games. For 2012, the OQT was 1:47.82 while the OST was 1:51.59. The qualifying window was 1 March 2011 to 3 July 2012; only approved meets (generally international competitions and national Olympic trials) during that period could be used to meet the standards. There were also universality places available; if no male swimmer from a nation qualified in any event, the NOC could enter one male swimmer in an event.
Nine nations (Australia, the Cayman Islands, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United States) had two swimmers meet the OQT. Five more (Hungary, New Zealand, Paraguay, South Korea, and Switzerland) had one swimmer qualify through the OQT. 12 NOCs received a place through OST selection. 6 nations used universality places in the men's 200 metre freestyle.
The two swimmers per NOC limit had been in place since the 1984 Games.
The competition followed the format established in 2000, with three rounds: heats, semifinals, and a final. The advancement rule followed the format introduced in 1952. A swimmer's place in the heat was not used to determine advancement; instead, the fastest times from across all heats in a round were used. The top 16 swimmers from the heats advanced to the semifinals. The top 8 semifinalists advanced to the final. Swim-offs were used as necessary to break ties.
This swimming event used freestyle swimming, which means that the method of the stroke is not regulated (unlike backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly events). Nearly all swimmers use the front crawl or a variant of that stroke. Because an Olympic-size swimming pool is 50 metres long, this race consisted of four lengths of the pool.
Prior to this competition, the existing world and Olympic records were as follows.
|World record||Paul Biedermann (GER)||1:42.00||Rome, Italy||28 July 2009|||
|Olympic record||Michael Phelps (USA)||1:42.96||Beijing, China||12 August 2008|||
The competition returned to a two-day schedule, with heats and semifinals on the same day.
|Sunday, 29 July 2012||10:20
|Monday, 30 July 2012||19:43||Final|
The top 16 advanced to the semifinals.
|3||2||3||Park Tae-hwan||South Korea||1:46.02||Q|
|5||1||4||Ryan Lochte||United States||1:46.31||Q|
|6||1||3||Robbie Renwick||Great Britain||1:46.65||Q|
|9||1||6||Ricky Berens||United States||1:46.87|
|12||1||1||Brett Fraser||Cayman Islands||1:47.01|
|3||Park Tae-hwan||South Korea||1:44.93|
|4||2||Ryan Lochte||United States||1:45.04|
|6||1||Robbie Renwick||Great Britain||1:46.53|
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