Sweep! Americans win gold and silver in 100 backstroke

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

United States swimmers Matt Grevers and Nick Thoman went 1-2 in the 100 backstroke on Monday night at the London Olympics, accomplishing a feat that their more heralded teammates, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, were unable to earlier in the competition.

Grevers, a 2008 silver medalist in the event, was heavily favored to win the 100 back. He took command from the outset and wasn't challenged in winning the first individual gold medal of his career, touching in an Olympic record 52.16.

The silver medal from Thoman was more of a surprise. He had never medaled in an individual event at a major international event and entered the final seeded fifth. Utilizing powerful, arching strokes, Thoman stayed near the tightly bunched pack at the turn and broke away early in the lap to touch .05 ahead of bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan.

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For Grevers, it's a return to the podium after he followed up his Beijing silver with a seventh-place finish at the 2009 world championships and a failure to make the U.S. team in 2011. He gained national attention earlier this year when he proposed to his swimmer girlfriend while she was on the medal stand at a meet in Missouri.

Monday's was the second straight sweep for Americans in the 100 back. Grevers and the now-retired Aaron Peirsol went 1-2 in Beijing. A member of the United States team has won the sprint backstroke event in every Olympics since 1996.

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