Nathan Adrian isn't the name most associate with Team USA when it comes to men's swimming, but the 23-year-old took a step closer to Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte on Wednesday at the 2012 London Olympics by winning the gold medal in the exciting 100 meter freestyle final.
The Washington native and Cal-Berkeley graduate -- he majored in public health and graduated with honors, for what that's worth -- ended the 100 meter race with a time of 47.52 seconds, coming back to finish just one one-hundredth of a second faster than Australia's James Magnussen.
Adrian's gold medal on Wednesday was the first of his individual swimming career (he was a part of 4x100 freestyle gold medal team in 2008 at Beijing) and he looked the part following his victory ... at least until he figured out what he'd just accomplished, anyway.
"I don't like to put pressure on myself so I don't like to think about it as the Olympics, so you could probably tell on my face, 'Oh, sweet, I won the heat!' " Adrian told USA Today. "It took a minute and I was like, 'This is the Olympics.' It was a moment of disbelief."
The American's close margin of victory also likely left Magnussen in a bit of disbelief, as USA Today has documented a bit of a rivalry between he and Adrian.
The victory tasted sweeter because not only had Magnussen won the event at the 2011 world championships (Adrian finished sixth), but the 21-year-old Aussie had promised that he'd win gold in the 100 free at these Olympics.
"There's a lot to be said, but until you actually get into the water and do it, it all doesn't mean anything," Adrian said.
Adrian will attempt to follow up Wednesday's big win this weekend, starting with the men's 4x100 medley relay heats on Friday.