LONDON -- Three North Carolina swimmers had some success in the Olympic pool in London, as Raleigh's Charlie Houchin and Charlotte's Davis Tarwater and Cullen Jones all were in the pool and advanced to the next round of competition.
Houchin and Tarwater swam two of the four legs of the men's 4x200 freestyle relay preliminary. The U.S. won the race rather easily, but it will be contested tonight once more in the final. It is likely Houchin and Tarwater have finished their meet, as the U.S. will probably bring in Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens for the relay tonight. Since Conor Dwyer had the fastest split time of the morning group, it is likely he will be the fourth swimmer. (UPDATE: That was indeed the order, and the U.S. won gold -- Tarwater and Houchin also get a gold for doing the preliminary).
But by virtue of swimming in the morning, Tarwater and Houchin are guaranteed whatever medal the U.S. gets. The U.S. traditionally has won gold in the 4x200, including in 2008, but France and Australia should provide strong competition.
"I was just kind of internalizing before the race that this was my dream coming true," Tarwater said. "I've swum this race a million times in my head over the past 20 years."
Houchin, who led off in the relay, wasn't that happy with his time but said the experience was great. "It could have been a better time, but it was fun," he said. "I've been waiting for this day for a long time."
Cullen Jones, meanwhile, will also swim tonight in the 100 meter semifinals. He qualified for that -- the top 16 make it -- rather easily in a morning swim in which he was obviously saving something for the evening. (UPDATE: Jones did not advance to the 100 final, but still has his best event -- the 50 freestyle -- later in the Olympic meet).