By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Monday, August 8, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO – Much like yawning and laughter, tears of joy might be contagious.
That seemed to be the case last night, anyway, during the Olympic medal ceremony of the men’s 400m free relay.Ryan Held tried to resist it, but as the Stars and Stripes rose over the aquatics center, and the first few bars of the national anthem rang out, the Olympic rookie started to tear up.
"I tried to tell myself I wasn't going to cry,” Held said. “I was too tired to cry, but then as soon as the national anthem started playing, tears just started rolling down my face, and I couldn't fight it."
The emotion then spread across the medal stand.
"Oh my god, they were making us cry,” Michael Phelps said. “The younger guys started crying, and then I started crying. I told them it is OK to sing. It is OK to cry. It is good to see emotion as one of the old dudes."
Nathan Adrian agreed.
"It's great. I love a bit of emotion,” Adrian said. “I had to fight back some tears myself. This race is the one you grow up as a kid, as a young sprinter, dreaming about. I mean, seriously. I've won the gold in the 100m freestyle, but you dream about doing that in the 4x100m freestyle relay.”
The United States had a great night Sunday in the Olympic swimming competition, winning five medals – two gold and three bronze.
What’s in store for tonight’s finals? Let’s take a look at the prospects:
Men’s 200m Freestyle
1. Sun Yang, CHN, 1:44.63
2. Kosuke Hagino, JPN, 1:45.45
3. Conor Dwyer, USA, 1:45.55
6 Townley Haas, USA, 1:45.92
While China’s Sun Yang is the top seed for tonight’s finals of the men’s 200m free by about eight-tenths of a second, the second through seventh seeds are separated by less than half a second, so it should be a close one.
Americans Conor Dwyer and Townley Haas qualified in that tight pack. Dwyer is competing at his second Olympic Games. He won gold in the 800m free relay and finished fifth in the 400m free in 2012. He also finished fifth in the 400m free on the first night of competition in Rio.
Haas is a rookie competing in his first Olympic final. He set the American record in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships last March.
The last American to win a gold medal in the men’s 200m free was Michael Phelps in 2008.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
1. Lilly King, USA, 1:05.70
2. Yulia Efimova, RUS, 1:05.72
3. Shi Jinglin, CHN, 1:06.31
5 . Katie Meili, USA, 1:06.52
With about a second separating the field, the women’s 100m breaststroke promises to be another tight race.
Representing the United States will be Lilly King and Katie Meili, both of whom are rookies competing in their first Olympic Finals.
King has risen to prominence over the past year or so. She took silver in the 100m breaststroke at last year’s World University Games and Phillips 66 National Championships, then broke the American record in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke en route to a pair of NCAA titles last March.
Meili won gold in the 100m breast and 400m medley relay at the 2014 Pan American Games.
American Rebecca Soni won silver in this event at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. The last American to win Olympic gold was Megan Jendrick in 2000.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
1. Ryan Murphy, USA, 52.49
2. David Plummer, USA, 52.50
3. Mitchell Larkin, AUS, 52.70
Another streak is on the line for the U.S. in the men’s 100m backstroke. The American men have won this event at the last five Olympic Games, including 1-2 finishes in 2008 and 2012.
Ryan Muprhy and David Plummer have put themselves in a good place to defend that streak as the first and second seeds heading into tonight’s finals. Both are rookies competing in their first Olympic finals.
Last year, Murphy won gold in the 400m medley relay at the FINA World Championships. He also won bronze in the 100m back at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and bronze in the 200m back at the 2011 Pan American Games.
A member of three World Championships teams, Plummer won a silver in the 100m backstroke at the 2013 Worlds in Barcelona. He was ninth in the 100m back at the 2015 World Championships and fifth in the 100m back at the 2011 World Championships.
Women’s 100m Backstroke
1. Kathleen Baker, USA, 58.84
2. Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 58.94
3. Fu Yuanhui, CHN, 58.95
8 Olivia Smoliga, USA, 59.35
The U.S. has won the women’s 100m backstroke at four of the last five Olympic Games. Missy Franklin won the race in American record time in 2012. Before that, Natalie Coughlin went back-to-back in 2004 and 2008, becoming the first and only swimmer to ever accomplish this feat in the 100m back.
American Kathleen baker is the top seed, swimming in her first Olympic Games and Olympic final. Baker finished eighth at the 2015 FINA World Championships in this event, and was ninth in the 100m back at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.
Smoliga is also a rookie swimming in her first Olympic final. Her biggest accomplishment on the international scene so far has been a silver in the 100m back at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Would you someday like to feel the pride of swimming for your country and watching the American flag rise over the medal stand at the Olympics? Your journey starts with USA Swimming. Find a team in your area at SwimToday.org.
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