It was back-to-back gold medals in the backstroke for Team USA on Monday night at the Olympic Aquatic Centre.
Matt Grevers won the men's 100-meter backstroke in Olympic-record time, 52.16 seconds, and Nick Thoman gave the U.S. its first 1-2 finish of the 2012 London Games when he touched the wall 0.76 of a second behind Grevers, at 52.92.
Moments earlier, 17-year-old phenom Missy Franklin had given the United States its first gold of the day, winning the women's 100 backstroke in an American-record time of 58.33 seconds.
Franklin's story was the more sensational of the gold medal-winning backstrokers, as her championship swim came less than 14 minutes after she qualified for today's 200 freestyle finals.
"I knew it was going to be difficult," said Franklin, who's attempting to become the first U.S. female swimmer to compete in seven different events in one Olympics. "One coach told me to take it one event at a time, and (another) coach told me to relax."
Todd Schmitz, who in addition to being Franklin's individual coach is a Team USA assistant, has assured his star pupil throughout the process she will be fine, as he has race-rehearsed her swimming multiple events over the past nine months.
Still, there were a few anxious moments in the 100 when Australia's Emily Seebohm hit the turn first, 0.14 seconds under the world record pace.
Franklin stayed close, her 6-foot-1 frame windmilling a surge that cleared Seebohm (58.68) just a few strokes before the finish.
The win gave Franklin her second medal of the games, as she won a bronze as part of the women's 4 X 100 freestyle relay team Sunday night.
"It's exceeding the expectations one hundred billion times over!" Franklin said. "I knew I just had to give it everything I had."
The best Grevers had to offer was only good enough for silver in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Then, like Monday, Team USA scored a 1-2 finish in the 100 backstroke with Aaron Peirsol standing atop the medal stand.
Once Peirsol retired, Grevers set to uphold a Team USA tradition of Olympic gold medals in the men's backstroke that now dates back 16 years.
Grevers' London gold marks the fifth consecutive Olympiad that an American has won gold in the 100 backstroke: Jeff Rouse (1996, Atlanta); Lenny Krayzelburg (2000, Sydney); and Aaron Peirsol (2004, Athens, 2008 Beijing).
Grevers, a 27-year-old Northwestern graduate, admitted he was almost too anxious to keep the streak alive.
"I had to pace myself, because all I wanted to do is go, go, go," he said. "I had to pull myself back, but it was really hard not to let myself go."
Rebecca Soni closed the evening's finals by winning a silver medal in the 100 breaststroke, getting outtouched by Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte, who finished in 1:05.47 to Soni's 1:05.55.
Soni, also second in the 100 breaststroke in the 2008 games, admitted it was hard to be the bridesmaid again.
"I was just waiting to get going; I've never had an experience like that," Soni said. "I'm a little disappointed."
Ryan Lochte, the 200 freestyle world champion in Shanghai in 2011, was a lot disappointed. The 446,300 Twitter followers of the former Florida Gator felt Lochte's pain after he failed to medal in the 200 freestyle on Monday.
Lochte, who raised expectations by winning the gold medal in the 400 individual medley Saturday night, sent the following tweet Monday night:
"The greatest athletes suffer the Hardest defeats before the biggest and best moments of your life. God has a plain (plan) for everyone :) #jeah"
France's Yannick Agnel, who overtook Lochte on the final leg of the 4 X 100 freestyle relay Sunday night, led wire to wire in winning the 200 freestyle in 1:43.14.
The silver was shared by South Korea's Taehwan Park and China's Yang Sun, who finished at 1:44.93 - 0.11 of a second ahead of Lochte.
The men's 200 freestyle is the only swimming event the Americans have failed to medal in at the London Games, as Team USA's medal count heading into the fourth day of competition is solid at 12.
The Americans have won four gold, five silver and three bronze. Since the start of the modern Olympic Games, in 1896, the Americans have won 500 Olympic medals in the pool. Australia is second, with 153 through Monday.
Mike Griffith of the Knoxville News-Sentinel is part of the Scripps Team covering the London Olympics. E-mail him at griffithm(at)knoxnews.com
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