July 29, 2012
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LONDON - Former Auburn swimmers Matt Targett and Gideon Louw narrowly missed earning an Olympic medal as Australia and South Africa finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 4x100 freestyle relay final Sunday night at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Targett and the Australians, widely considered the favorite for the gold medal, missed the medal stand by .22 seconds with a fourth-place time of 3:11.63. France earned a measure of revenge on the United States, coming from behind in the final 50 meters to win the gold in 3:09.93, while the Americans took the silver in 3:10.38. Russia captured the bronze with a 3:11.41.
After James Magnussen led off with a 48.03 to put the Aussies in second place, Targett posted a 47.83 split to keep his home country in the medal hunt. Eamon Sullivan ripped a 47.68 to keep his team third, but a disappointing 48.09 from James Roberts dropped the Aussies to fourth place and out of medal contention.
Targett was seeking his third Olympic medal after winning bronze in this same event at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also won silver in the 4x100 medley relay in 2008.
Australia was the top seed after posting a time of 3:12.29 in the preliminary heat; Targett did not swim the preliminary to be fully rested for tonight's swim.
Louw put together a strong leadoff leg - a lifetime-best 48.48 100m freestyle split - to put the South Africans in fourth place after 100 meters, and the team would earn fifth place in 3:13.45. South Africa entered the final as the seventh seed, clocking a 3:13.93 in prelims this morning. The former Tiger will have two more events in London, competing later in the week in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
Two current Auburn athletes competed in preliminaries of the 4x100 free relay but did not advance to the final. Junior Marcelo Chierighini (Brazil) narrowly missed the final with a ninth-place finish despite Chierighini's 48.17 anchor leg that pulled his team from sixth to fourth in the heat. Junior James Disney-May (Great Britain) posted a split of 48.99 on the third leg of his team's relay, helping the Brits to a 12th-place finish in 3:17.08.
Seven-time Olympic medalist Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe) earned a 14th-place finish in the women's 100m backstroke semifinals, clocking a 1:00.39 to finish seventh in her heat. She will have two more chances to swim in these Olympics with races remaining in the 200 IM and 200 backstroke.
In the preliminary heats, Coventry saw her Olympic record broken by Australia's Emily Seebohm, who clocked a 58.23 to eclipse Coventry's previous mark of 58.77, set at the 2008 Beijing Games. Coventry swam a 1:00.24 in prelims. French star Laure Manaudou, who trains at Auburn under head coach Brett Hawke, was 22nd overall in 1:01.03.
One other former Tiger, George Bovell (Trinidad & Tobago) set a new Trinidadian national record in the men's 100m backstroke prelims, posting a 55.22 to win his heat and finish 29th overall.
Coventry will be Auburn's only swimming competitor on Monday as she swims the 200m individual medley. That event begins at 4 a.m. CT with live coverage on NBCOlympics.com. Fans can also follow @AuburnSwimming and #AUOlympics on Twitter for the latest updates throughout the Games.
Sunday's Auburn Olympics Results
Women's 100 Backstroke - Heats
15. Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) - 1:00.24
22. Laure Manaudou (FRA) - 1:01.03
Women's 100 Backstroke - Semifinals
14. Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) - 1:00.39
Men's 100 Backstroke - Heats
29. George Bovell (TRI) - 55.22
Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay - Qualification
7. South Africa (Roland Schoeman, Darian Townsend, Gideon Louw, Graeme Moore) - 3:13.93
9. Brazil (Nicolas Oliviera, Bruno Fratus, Nicholas Santos, Marcelo Chierighini) - 3:16.14
12. Great Britain (Simon Burnett, Grant Turner, James Disney-May, Craig Gibbons) - 3:17.08
Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay - Final
4. Australia (James Magnussen, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts) - 3:11.63
5. South Africa (Gideon Louw, Darian Townsend, Graeme Moore, Roland Schoeman) - 3:13.45