07/31/2012 06:48 am ET

Nathan Adrian, Yannick Agnel, Cullen Jones Advance To Men's 100-Meter Freestyle Semifinals

By Swimming World

LONDON, England, July 31. Team USA's Nathan Adrian, following up on a strong leg in the men's 400-meter freestyle relay, raced to a strong time to lead the men's 100-meter free prelims at the 2012 London Olympics.

Adrian clocked a time of 48.19 for the top seed heading into semis. That swim nearly eclipsed his top time in textile of 48.05 from the 2011 World Championships. Adrian, a two-time Olympic relay medalist, is gunning for his first individual Olympic medal. He also would like to become the first American to win the sprint crown since Matt Biondi won gold in the event in 1988.

South Africa's Gideon Louw raced to second in 48.29. He's following the South African legacy of Roland Schoeman, who took silver in this event in 2004. It will be his second semifinal action in his career after making semis of the 50 free at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Netherlands' Sebastiaan Verschuren posted a 48.37 for the third seed, giving his country hope to return the Olympic gold medal that Pieter van den Hoogenband won twice in a row in 2000 and 2004. Australia's James Magnussen, looking to shake off a disappointing outing in the men's 400-meter freestyle relay, qualified fourth in 48.38.

Canada's Brent Hayden (48.53), Cayman Islands' Brett Fraser (48.54), Belgium's Pieter Timmers (48.54) and Russia's Nikita Lobintsev (48.60) made up the rest of the top eight.

USA's Cullen Jones qualified ninth in 48.61, while world-record holder and defending bronze medalist Cesar Cielo tied Poland's Konrad Czerniak for 10th with matching 48.67s. Australia's James Roberts (48.93), France's Yannick Agnel (48.93), France's Fabien Gilot (48.95), Cuba's Hanser Garcia (48.97) and Cayman Islands' Shaune Fraser (48.99) rounded out the semifinal field. Agnel, France's 400 freestyle relay anchor hero, who also won the 200 free, is looking for his third medal this week.