Thursday's finals

Rebecca Soni was magnificent. I can't recall another event where the winner broke the world record in the semifinals and then broke it again in finals. Soni seems to have only one gear: all out. Her heat time was a 2:21, then she went a 2:20.00, then a 2:19.59.

It's nice for aspiring young swimmers to see a champion of normal size: Soni is only 5' 4". The shortest woman on America's winning 4 x 200 meter free relay, by contrast, was six feet tall. 

Lochte only got a third in the 200 meter backstroke, the event in which he was the defending Olympic champion. He must dislike the winner Tyler Clary as much as everyone else; After Clary won the gold, he reached out to shake Lochte's hand, or get some sort of physical contact. Lochte gave him none and barely nodded at him as he went over the lane line past him on his way out of the pool.

Lochte was all smiles on the medal stand, but he didn't say a word to Clary. After the 200 IM, by contrast, it seemed Phelps and Lochte couldn't stop talking.

Other than admiring his swimming, I've alway been fairly neutral toward Phelps, so was a little surprised to find myself myself rooting so hard for him in both the 200 fly and 200 IM. He seems to be benefitting from the George Foreman effect: he's not charismatic, but has grown in our affections simply by virtue of his longevity. We all remember him from way back when.

So it was nice to see that historic threepeat.

Phelps looked awfully sharp in his 100 fly semifinal. After his victory in the 200 IM, his confidence seems to be back. He'll be tough to beat tonight.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo had the most understated reaction of any gold medalist after she won the 100 free tonight. The men tend to raise their arms and pound the water in triumph. The women tend to look at the scoreboard in disbelief, put their hands on their mouths, then hug their nearest competitor. Kromowidjojo just looked at the scoreboard, rested her chin on the back of her hand, gazed at the scoreboard a while longer, then gave a shy smile.

A refreshing change.