LONDON, England, July 28. DANA Vollmer decided to kick it up a notch in prelims of the women's 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics.
Vollmer, who already held the American record with a 56.42 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, a time which also stood as the textile best, put on the afterburners in prelims with a scorching time of 56.25. That swim not only bested her American and textile best time, it also wiped out the Olympic record of 56.61 set by Inge de Bruijn of The Netherlands at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Vollmer's effort is the fourth fastest off all time, with her still standing as the fourth performer behind Sarah Sjostrom (56.06), Liu Zige (56.07) and Jessicah Schipper (56.23). Vollmer is in line to become the first American to win the event since Amy van Dyken claimed the title in 1996 with the closest finals swim in the Olympic event's history. Van Dyken clipped China's Liu Limin, 59.13 to 59.14, at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
"I felt really good," Vollmer said after her race. "I like to push myself in the prelims and see where I'm going in my body. I did feel like I was kind of pacing myself and building up to get faster. Walking in I just had to remind myself that I love racing and the 100m fly is my favorite event. I feel so much better. I'm a completely different person to what I was four years ago."
China's Lu Ying raced to second in 57.17 to move to 15th all time in the event's history. She will be attempting to win China's first gold medal in the event since Qian Hong topped the 1992 race with a 58.62.
"I am doing good as normally in training I swim around 58ish, so this morning's swim (57.17sec) was not at my standard level," Lu said. "I feel good about it."
Australia's Alicia Coutts (57.36), Sweden's Sjostrom (57.45) and Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen Gray (57.64) qualified third through fifth. Australia is riding a two-Games win streak in the event with Petria Thomas and Libby Trickett claiming the last two gold medals. Sjostrom, meanwhile, did enough to advance, but will be looking to better her world record of 56.06 set during the techsuit era. Denmark has never medaled in this event.
China's Jiao Liuyang (57.71), USA's Claire Donahue (58.06) and Great Britain's Fran Halsall (58.23) rounded out the top eight.
Great Britain's Ellen Gandy (58.25), The Netherlands' Inge Dekker (58.30), Singapore's Li Tao (58.34), Italy's Ilaria Bianchi (58.42), Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia (58.50), Sweden's Martina Granstrom (58.70), Japan's Yuka Kato (58.72) and Greece's Kristel Vourna (58.73) also made the semifinal rounds.
Defending bronze medalist Jessica Schipper missed semis completely with a 24th-place 59.17. With 2008 gold medalist Trickett not swimming the event, and 2008 silver medalist Christine Magnuson missing the team this year, a new podium is guaranteed.