By Tara Congdon
Print Media Editor
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Amidst heartbreak as multiple American swimmers came within seconds of medaling, one shining moment came when Peggy Liang tapped the wall to take silver in the women’s 50m butterfly Monday at Spartak Swimming Arena.
The medal was particularly rewarding for Liang after she struggled in the 100m freestyle, taking fifth and missing gold by just one second, after posting the top time in the preliminary heats.
It’s the “first silver for this team,” Liang said. “So it was really nice to get silver after the [difficult] hundred free.”
The 50m butterfly finals had the audience on the edge of their seats as the eight swimmers hit the wall within 1.75 seconds of each other. Russia’s Alena Alexeeva took gold with a time of 29.36; Liang finished less than a third of a second behind, in 29.67 seconds; and Belarus’s Katsiaryna Eramtsova took third with a time of 29.90.
Throughout the day, Liang’s teammates struggled to qualify for finals or just missed bronze by seconds.
Matthew Klotz, who won gold Monday in the 100m backstroke in world-record time, had the third-best time in preliminary heats for the 200m medley, with 2:13.80. However, he was unable to shave enough time off in the finals and took fourth in 2:12.18. Russia’s Vitaly Obotin won with a time of 2:08.64.
Another heartbreaker came in the men’s 4×100 freestyle final as the U.S., which came in third in preliminaries in 3:46.63, was unable to edge China for the bronze.
China and the U.S. were neck and neck the whole way. Scott Farrell swam the leadoff leg in 56.37, 0.01 second ahead of China; Edward Freeman, the second leg in 56.86; brother Kenneth Freeman, the third in 56.20; and Klotz, the final leg in 53.44, hitting the wall just one second after China.
The relay team put up a time of 3:42.87, almost four seconds off its preliminary time.
Head coach Marcus Titus said the relay team did a great job, regardless of missing the podium.
“In the relay, the guys wanted to win badly,” Titus said. “They did the best they could, and they all improved their times. Still proud of how they’re all performing, because that shows their spirit.”
All swimmers “are dropping times from prelims to finals. I’m happy no matter what, for them, because they’re doing a great job,” he said.
Samantha Elam, Alixandria Gavin and Catherine Parker missed qualifying for the 200m backstroke; Parker and Jazmin Hernandez missed qualifying for the 50m butterfly; and the Freeman brothers came up short alongside Jake Hammack in the 200m breaststroke.
All swimmers get a rest day Tuesday before competition resumes Wednesday with preliminary heats from 9:30 a.m. to noon (2:30 a.m.-5 a.m. ET) and finals from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET).