Aug. 3, 2012
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LONDON - Auburn's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace advanced to the semifinals of the women's 50-meter freestyle, and four former Auburn swimmers helped their respective countries qualify for the men's 4x100 medley relay final on the last morning of preliminaries Friday at the 2012 London Olympics.
Vanderpool-Wallace, competing in her second event of the Olympics for her native Bahamas, clocked a 24.85 to tie for third in her heat and qualify seventh overall. It will be her second semifinals appearance of these Games; she also advanced to the semis in the 100m freestyle earlier in the week.
The top qualifier was Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands - also the gold medalist in the 100 free - with a 24.51; defending gold medalist Britta Steffen of Germany qualified fourth in 24.70.
Five current and former Tigers swam for their countries in the men's 4x100 medley relay to wrap up the morning session with four helping their teams advance to Saturday's final. The United States team of Nick Thoman, former Tigers Eric Shanteau and Tyler McGill, and Cullen Jones posted the top qualifying time of 3:32.65. Shanteau swam the breaststroke leg to pull the USA from third to second at the 200-meter mark, and a 51.53 butterfly split for McGill gave the Americans a lead they would not relinquish in their heat.
Host nation Great Britain drew the loudest cheers of the morning as they won their heat in 3:33.44 to post the second-best qualifying mark. After the first three legs, Liam Tancock, Craig Benson and Michael Rock had the Brits in second place, but former Tiger Adam Brown rolled off a split of 48.22 to propel his team to victory.
Also in the first heat, former Tiger Matt Targett swam the butterfly leg for Australia, helping teammates Hayden Stoeckel, Brenton Rickard and Tommaso D'Orsogna to a second-place time of 3:33.73, earning the fourth qualifying spot for Saturday's final. Targett's butterfly split of 51.30 gave the Australians the lead at the 300-meter mark before Brown pulled Great Britain ahead to win the heat.
Brazil would finish 15th overall with a 3:37.00, despite an outstanding freestyle leg of 48.17 from Auburn junior Marcelo Chierighini.
The four former Tigers that swam in the preliminaries may not necessarily compete in Saturday's final, but should their team earn a medal in the final, all participants in the preliminaries would be awarded a medal as well.
Friday night's session will see four Auburn swimmers with opportunities to win an Olympic medal. The session kicks off with Kirsty Coventry (ZWE) looking for her third consecutive gold medal in the women's 200m backstroke; that race begins at 1:30 p.m. CT (7:30 p.m. GMT). Immediately thereafter, McGill will swim in his first Olympic final as he goes for gold in the men's 100m butterfly at 1:38 p.m. CT.
Cesar Cielo (BRA) and George Bovell (TRI) will compete in the men's 50m freestyle final at 2:09 p.m. CT; Cielo is the defending gold medalist and world record-holder in the event. And Vanderpool-Wallace will wrap up the session with her semifinal swim in the women's 50m freestyle, beginning at 2:25 p.m. CT.
NBCOlympics.com has live streaming video of all events, and NBC will show all of tonight's races on a tape-delayed basis during its primetime coverage. Fans can follow @AuburnSwimming and #AUOlympics for updates throughout the day.