Your Non-Spoiler Olympic Primetime Guide: August 3


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Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

Everything you need to know about tonight's Olympic primetime coverage—without knowing what actually happened.

Americans Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Franklin—MISSY. FRANKLIN.—qualified for the event in first and second, respectively. Along with Russian Anastasia Zueva, they’re the favorites for gold. It’s Franklin’s last chance for a second individual medal, while Beisel won silver in the 400m Individual Medley, despite being 19 years old, which, I believe makes her old enough to be Missy Franklin’s grandmother. This race is a race in the sense that a bunch of people are swimming in the same pool at the same time. But it really just ends up being a competition between one person and a steadily-moving, horizontal, neon line.

This is the race that Michael Phelps won in Beijing when he basically stopped time and out-reached Serbian Milorad Cavic by something like one-billionth of a second. Cavic is back, and Phelps is trying to become the only man to win two individual swimming events in three consecutive Olympics. (As of yesterday, he’s also the only man to three-peat in one event.) South African Chad LeClos, who beat Phelps in the 200m butterfly, is also in the field. Phelps struggles in the first 50, but he’s Michael Phelps so just stop reading and make sure you watch the entire race.

This is supposed to be The Moment for Great Britain in the pool at the 2012 Olympics. Rebecca Adlington is the defending gold medalist and world record holder. She’s expected to win, and, well, it’d sort of be a bummer if she didn’t. Katie Ledecky, a 15-year-old (she’ll be a high-school SOPHOMORE in the fall), swims for the U.S. and is expected to challenge for a medal. The result here is unbelievable—meaning, I don’t think the average human mind can fully process how what happens here comes to actually happen. 

Cesar Cielo of Brazil comes in as the world record holder and defending Olympic champ. American Anthony Ervin won gold in this event in 2000, quit swimming and sold his gold medal in 2004 to benefit survivors of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, but then started training again in 2011, and is now in the 50m final. Cullen Jones of the U.S., who has a gold and a silver relay medal, will be looking for his first-ever individual medal. It’s a close race, as half-lap races tend to be, and it’s also the final short-distance men’s race of the Games. If you can’t make time for this, congrats on being the President of the Illuminati.