I just watched Charlotte's Mark Gangloff eke out a spot in the semifinals of his specialty event -- the 100-meter breaststroke.
It worked -- for now -- but it wasn't pretty.
Although Gangloff was very confident entering the event due to a run of great practice sessions, he finished fifth in his heat, was surpassed by a number of other swimmers in other heats and was in major danger of missing the 16-person semifinal altogether. If he had been 1/10 of a second slower, he would have been 17th and would be out of the race already. On a secondary note, my story on Gangloff in Saturday's paper that you can read here would already be out of date.
“I felt good before it started, but maybe I just took it out too fast,” Gangloff told me following the race. “I’ll have to adjust a little bit. But the important thing is that I qualified for the next round, even if it was 16th.”
For you swimmers out there, Gangloff swam the first 50 in 28.26 and was third at the split before fading to fifth in his heat. (He usually leads his races at the halfway point). Brendan Hansen, the other American swimmer in this event and the world-record holder, also struggled some, qualifying in 10th place.
Gangloff and Hansen swim again in about 13 hours (at about 11 p.m. Eastern time Saturday night), when the field gets cut from 16 to 8. Judging from Gangloff's first performance -- he swam the race in 1:00.71, or about 6/10 of a second off his career best of 1:00.10 -- he's no certainty to get there. Neither is Hansen, although he sounded more confident than Gangloff following this race.
"There are a lot of peacocks out there showing their feathers," Hansen said, referring to the many swimmers who posted faster preliminary times than he did.
But prelim times don't always hold up in the semis and the final (which would be held Sunday night at about 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, whether Gangloff gets there or not). NBC usually shows the swimming live -- the big events are held in the morning in Beijing so they can go on live in prime time in America -- so you can probably see Gangloff tonight and see if he can rebound from this performance.