USA's Nathan Adrian takes gold (barely) in the 100-meter freestyle

Nathan Adrian wins the 100-meter freestyle for the U.S., giving it the first gold in the event since 1988. (US Presswire)

The 100-meter men's freestyle is one of the best races in the pool. So fast, so splashy, the best and most powerful swimmers in the world kicking and pulling their bodies toward one wall -- and then blazing to one more touch. Few races seem more physically exhaustive in relation to the time it takes from start to finish. It's done in less than 50 seconds, some of the most thrilling competition the Olympics has to offer.

And now, the fastest swimmer in the world is boasted by the United States. Twenty-three-year-old Nathan Adrian defeated the Australian missile, James Magnussen, by one one-hundredth of a second in the race Wednesday. Nathan out-touched Magnussen 47.52 to 47.53.

Adrian, who had never swam under 48 seconds before his London races, came from behind to take the gold. It's the first gold medal for the U.S. in this event in 24 years. It is the 13th time the U.S. has taken gold in the event. Nathan finished fourth in this event in the 2008 Games, but has previously won the 50- and 100-meter titles at World Championships in the past three years.

His victory is by no means a surprise. It gives yet another gold to the U.S. in the pool at these Games.

Third place in the men's 100-free on Wednesday went to Canada's Brent Hayden, who touched in 47.80. The time difference between Adrian's finish and last-place swimmer Nikita Lobintsev (Russia) was less than a second -- .96, to be exact.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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