Connect with us

Olympics / Team USA

Local Swimmers Cap off Final Day of Swimming

The United States swim team capped off a historic Olympic performance Saturday night in the pool with another huge haul of medals, headlined by several local swimmers.

The night started in the women’s 50m freestyle final, which saw Lia Neal’s Stanford teammate Simone Manuel finish with a silver medal, her fourth medal of the Olympics. Afterwards, it was the longest race run in the pool, the men’s 1500m freestyle.

The United States were represented by national champion Connor Jaeger of Fair Haven, NJ, as well as Jordan Wilimovsky. Despite their best efforts, the race was dominated in a Ledecky-like fashion right from the start by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, who even flirted with world record time for most of the race. Wilimovksy held second place for a majority of the race, but couldn’t hold onto it. Jaeger then rode a late surge, fighting from fourth place into a fight for second with Italy’s other swimmer, Gabriele Detti. Wilimovsky finished fifth.

Jaeger smashed his only American record, becoming the first American to dip below 14:40, while being the first American to medal in the event since Larsen Jensen in Athens in 2004. This is his first Olympic medal after he had finished sixth in the event in London, and earlier in the week, finished seventh in the 400m final. With a medal now in hand, Jaeger, 25, is considering retirement.

The epic race set the stage for the final two races, the medley relays for both men’s and women’s. The women started it off, headlined by Olympic veteran and Syracuse native Dana Vollmer, who had earlier took home a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly. Kathleen Baker in backstroke, Lily King of breastroke, and Simone Manuel in freestyle rounded out the team. Baker led off, and gave the team a sizeable lead. King followed her up and coughed it up to Russian rival Yulia Efimova.

However, Vollmer would take it back on the butterfly leg; it would could be the last Olympic race of her career, a lead that Manuel would hold onto for the gold. Kelsi Worrell of Westhampton, NJ also earned a gold medal, by racing as the butterfly leg in the qualifying races, which earned the American’s the top time in the competition. The win was the United States’ 1,000th gold medal in Olympic history.

If Michael Phelps’ last race wasn’t immediately after in the men’s medley, there probably would have been a much larger conversation about Vollmer and her accomplishments. For one, Vollmer was returning less than two years after giving birth to her first son, which made her comeback even more impressive. The second thing, is that she was also swimming in her age 28 season, which is considered on the older side for Olympic swimmers. And lastly, the race could have possibly capped off one of the greatest swimming careers in American history, taking home five golds, one silver, and a bronze as well since the Athens games. She says that she will try to come for another Olympics, after she plans to give birth to a second child, however, it remains to be seen if she will be capable for another go-round at age 32.

Phelps would come later to win gold No. 1,002 later that night (long jumper Jeff Henderson got 1,001), to cap off a historic career, as well as capping an extraordinarily meet for the United States that blew away all expectations coming in. It was expected to be a rough Olympics by American standards coming in but they dominated, earning 33 total medals, including 16 golds, which was one shy of the rest of the world combined.

Phelps and Katie Ledecky led the way, dominating their own races combining for nine medals, but it was also filled with underdogs and surprise stories, such as Cody Miller in breastroke, Anthony Ervin’s incredible comeback race, Simone Manuel’s gold, and Lily King’s showdown with Efimova. Many credit the team captains, Phelps and Elizabeth Beisel, and their team building exercises in training camps which helped the unify the squad leading into the games which put everyone the same page.

It was encouraging after the worst showing in the 2015 world championships since 1994, where only Ledecky and Ryan Lochte won individual golds. It remains to be seen if this was a one Olympic performance, or that the nation’s swimming is simply coming up to replace Phelps, but either way, it was an Olympics for the record books.


The following two tabs change content below.
Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Olympics / Team USA