(Photo: Reuters/Tim Wimborne)
U.S. Olympian swimmer Nathan Adrian, often overshadowed by his more famous teammates Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, burst into the spotlight Wednesday when he won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle at London's Olympic Aquatic Center.
Adrian, 23, beat Australian James ''The Missile'' Magnussen by one-100th of a second, which is the smallest margin possible.
He also scored his personal best record of 47.52 seconds.
"I knew James was a strong closer. I'm typically known to go out fast and come back a little slower, but this time I really conserved some energy that first 50...and then I had a little bit in me for the last 10 meters," Adrian told USA Today.
"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 continued.
"It took a minute and I was like, 'This is the Olympics.' It was a moment of disbelief," he added.
Adrian is the first American in 24 years to win this race, also known in the competitive swimming community as the "fastest man in the world" race.
"I almost started crying in the water," Adrian told Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch.
The Olympic champion, who made his Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, tweeted shortly after winning: "#spoileralert: I win. Thanks to all my friends, family, team mates, coaches, and can't forget my Twitter followers! Your support is felt."
The young athlete of Bremerton, Wash., currently holds the American record for the Olympics' 50 and 100 freestyle events. He now joins Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Locthe as among the most popular swimmers of the 2012 Olympics.