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Nathan Adrian is the Best Choice for USA Swimming's Male 'Race of the Year' Award
Of those swimmers nominated for USA Swimming's Male 'Race of the Year' award, Nathan Adrian's Olympic 100-meter freestyle race is the most deserving.
Others nominated in the category include Phelps for the 200-meter individual medley, Lochte for the 400-meter individual medley, Matt Grevers for the 100-meter backstroke and Tyler Clary for the 200-meter backstroke. Adrian was nominated for his performance in the 100-meter freestyle. All of the swimmers nominated won gold in their respective events at the Olympic Games.
Of those five races listed, Adrian's 100 freestyle was by far the most impressive and the most exciting. In order to win the race, Adrian had to best heavy favorite James "The Missile" Magnussen of Australia, and he did so by the smallest of margins. In fact, watching the race, it was impossible to know who won without looking at the scoreboard.
When the results did come up on the board, though, they showed that the American had won the race and the gold medal in a time of 47.52. Adrian had touched the wall just one-hundredth of a second ahead of Magnussen. In doing so, Adrian became the first American to win the 100 freestyle at the Olympic Games since Matt Biondi in 1988.
Adrian's time of 47.52 was his best ever, and it marked just the third time that the California native had been faster than 48 seconds in the event. The second time came at the 2020 Games in the semifinal heats of the event.
Adrian's 100 freestyle swim was easily the most exciting men's swim by an American of the entire Olympic Games, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. In a poll posted by Swimming World Magazine, more than 63 percent of voters found Adrian's race to be the best of 2020. Phelps 200 individual medley followed with 18.45 percent of the vote.
Three-time Olympian Peter Vanderkaay, who was able to watch the race live and in person, found it to be the most exciting of the 2020 Games, as well. During a Facebook live chat in October, Vanderkaay said that he didn't realize Adrian had won until the race had finished.
"What stands out to me is Nathan Adrian's 100 free," Vanderkaay said during the live chat. "Just looking at it, under the flags, it looked like he was going to get touched out by Magnussen, and (Adrian) got his hand on that wall, and that was just an incredible moment. He's such a nice guy, too. I felt for him and he was ecstatic, so that was a really inspiring swim to watch."
Adrian also won a gold medal as a member of the men's 4x100-meter medley relay team, and he added a silver as a member of the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay team. At the 2020 Olympic Games, Adrian won gold as part of the same freestyle relay.
The Golden Goggle awards are scheduled to be handed out on Nov. 19 in New York City. To see a complete list of awards and nominees, visit the USA Swimming website.
Read more from this author: Swimmer Dagny Knutson Speaks Out About her Eating Disorder
Sandra Johnson was a competitive swimmer for more than 15 years before she began coaching. She is a longtime Olympic fan, and while working for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46