Allison Schmitt made Georgia Lady Bulldog history as she blew away the field to win the women’s 200-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics.
Schmitt beat second-place Camille Muffat from France by nearly two full seconds to collect Georgia’s first individual swimming gold medal in school history on Tuesday at the Olympic Aquatic Centre.
“I was just racing,” Schmitt said in a release. “I knew I had to kick it. I just look at that scoreboard and see 53 and first place. I couldn’t be happier.”
Schmitt, a rising senior at Georgia, set an Olympic record and lowered her own American record with a time of 1 minute, 53.61 seconds. Muffat was second with a time of 1:55.58, Australia’s Bronte Barratt was third at 1:55.81 and American Missy Franklin was fourth at 1:55.82.
“It was an outstanding swim right from the start,” Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said in a release. “She just went out and did it. She took care of business immediately and it was never in doubt. She swam such a great race. She was absolutely outstanding. I am so happy for Allison, her family, Team USA and Georgia. She made us all so proud.”
Tuesday’s victory provided a measure of revenge for Schmitt against Muffat. On Sunday, Muffat won the women’s 400 freestyle and Schmitt was second.
“Allison was in a very good place before the meet,” Bauerle said. “I could tell something special was possible. She’s always a happy person, but when it was over, she was as happy as I’ve ever seen her. She was just beaming.”
Schmitt’s time on Tuesday broke the Olympic record previously held by Italy’s Frederica Pellegrini in 2008 of 1:54.82. Schmitt had previously set the American record of 1:54.4 in the United States Olympic Trials in July.
In the 200 freestyle final on Tuesday, Schmitt was fourth after the first 50-meter split with a time of 27.18, following Franklin (27.02), Russia’s Veronica Popova (27.13) and Muffat (27.15). But Schmitt took the lead at the 100-meter split at 55.38 and pulled away through the final 100 meters to win her first individual Olympic gold medal.
Tuesday’s is Schmitt’s third medal of the London Games and fourth overall. She was part of the USA’s 400 freestyle relay team that took bronze on Saturday and won an individual silver on Sunday in the 400 freestyle. Schmitt was also on America’s 800 freestyle relay team that won bronze in Beijing in 2008.
“She told me that she wanted a medal of every color,” Bauerle said. “She’s got them now.”
Schmitt’s four career Olympic medals ties Georgia’s school record held by Kara Lynn Joyce in 2004 and 2008. Schmitt will swim with the USA’s 800 freestyle relay team on Wednesday. Joyce is also at London and will swim in the 50 freestyle on Friday.
Georgia swimmers had previously won three Olympic gold medals (Sheila Taormina in 1996, Kim Black in 2000 and Courtney Shealy twice in 2000) and they had all been in relays before Schmitt’s dominating performance on Tuesday.
Schmitt, who is from Canton, Mich., would have been a senior at Georgia last season but took a redshirt so she could concentrate on Olympic training. She plans to return to Georgia for the upcoming season.