The Olympic 100 meter butterfly race was won in an amazing come from behind victory by Michael Phelps in 1/100 of a second over Serbia’s Milorad Čavić. Anyone watching the race might have had the same reaction as Phelps' mother, Debbie, who at the finish held up two fingers, thinking her son had come in second.
Phelps won by taking an extra alligator-arm half stroke, called a short finish by swimmers, to out touch Čavić, who was gliding to the wall in what swimmers call a long finish. The difference between the two was infinitesimally small. Phelps swam the entire race from behind, and was seventh at the turn. He knew he needed to do something desperate to win.
“When I took that last stroke I thought I lost the race there, but it turns out that was the difference,” Phelps said later.
Phelps had a time of 50.58, a personal best and an Olympic record. Cavic was timed in 50.59.
The swimming team officials from Serbia, participating as an independent nation for the first time in nearly a century, protested the results. But after looked at the official FINA footage of the race finish, broken down to the 10-thousandth of a second, they backed off their protest.
Here are some photos showing how Phelps won the race:
Michael Phelps, on left; Milorad Cavic on right
Phelps, left, touches wall ahead of Cavic; click to enlarge.
photo finish: Phelps wins by 1/100 sec.
Notice now Cavic lifted his head and increased his drag
as he glided to the wall, probably why he lost.
Phelps, top, lunges for wall ahead of Cavic
Phelps, right, touches wall ahead of Cavic
Michael Phelps (right) just out-touches Serbia's Milorad Cavic
Phelps, lane 5, starts his last stroke to the wall
Phelps celebrates win