Three former Auburn swimmers will gun for Olympic gold Friday

From Auburn University:

LONDON – Former Auburn swimmers Cesar Cielo and Kirsty Coventry will have a chance to defend their 2008 Olympic gold medals, and George Bovell and Tyler McGill will also swim for Olympic gold after each advanced to the finals in their respective events Thursday evening at the 2012 London Olympics.

Cielo, the 2008 gold medalist and world record-holder in the 50-meter freestyle, tied Cullen Jones (USA) as the top qualifier from the semifinals with a time of 21.54, dropping .26 off his time from the morning prelims. The Brazilian was the No. 2 seed in the semifinals after his morning swim with a time of 21.80.

The former Tiger, who still owns the Auburn, SEC and NCAA records in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, won the gold medal in 2008 with a time of 21.30. He had the world's second-fastest time in a textile suit heading into the Olympics with a 21.38 at this year's Maria Lenk Trophy.

Bovell (Trinidad & Tobago) will seek his second Olympic medal as he also advanced to the final with a time of 21.77, taking second in his heat and qualifying fifth overall. He was the top qualifier in the morning heats with the same time as he posted in semifinals, a 21.77 that was his fastest in a textile suit.

Bovell was the bronze medalist in the 200m IM at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but this will be his first Olympic final in the 50m free. He owns the fourth-fastest 50m freestyle mark of all-time with a 21.20, set at the 2009 World Championships.

Gideon Louw (South Africa) came within four-hundredths of a second of giving Auburn three swimmers in the final. His time of 21.92 was good for ninth place in the semifinals, fractions of an inch behind Australia's Eamon Sullivan for the eighth and final spot in the final.

Micah Lawrence (USA) finished sixth in her first Olympic final, clocking a 2:23.27 in an extremely fast 200m breaststroke race. American teammate Rebecca Soni broke her own world record in the event with a 2:19.59, becoming the first woman to ever crack the 2:20 mark in the event, and the bronze medal time of 2:20.92 by Russia's Iuliia Efimova was more than two seconds faster than Lawrence's personal best.

In the women's 200 backstroke, Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe) gave herself a chance to win her third consecutive gold medal by advancing to the final with a time of 2:08.32, finishing second in her heat and posting the sixth-fastest time overall. Coventry was third in the morning's preliminary heats with a 2:08.14, finishing only behind Americans Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Beisel.

And Tyler McGill (USA) earned his first trip to an Olympic final, clocking the third-best time in the 100m butterfly semifinals with a 51.61, finishing only behind 200m fly gold medalist Chad le Clos and defending 100m fly gold medalist Michael Phelps. McGill was the bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championships and will look to earn his first Olympic medal Friday.

Friday morning's heats – the last session of swimming preliminaries at the Olympics – will feature only one Auburn individual swimmer as Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Bahamas) will swim in the women's 50-meter freestyle prelims. That race begins at 4 a.m. CT (10 a.m. GMT).

Qualifying heats will also take place in the men's 4x100 medley relay. McGill and Eric Shanteau could be in the mix to swim the butterfly and breaststroke legs, respectively, for the United States team, and Louw (South Africa) and Cielo (Brazil) are potential freestyle swimmers for their countries.

The four Auburn swimmers in Friday's finals will compete starting at 1:30 p.m. CT. Coventry will be first in the women's 200m back at 1:30, followed immediately by McGill in the 100m fly at 1:38. The men's 50m free with Cielo and Bovell will be the last final of the day, starting at 2:09 p.m. CT.

Track and field action also begins Friday with Stephen Saenz (Mexico) competing in the men's shot put preliminaries beginning at 4 a.m. CT, and Sheniqua Ferguson (Bahamas) and Kerron Stewart (Jamaica) will run the women's 100m at 1:05 p.m. has live coverage of all preliminary heats, beginning at 4 a.m. CT, and fans can follow @AuburnSwimming, @AUTrack and #AUOlympics on Twitter for live updates throughout the day.

Thursday's Auburn Olympic Results

Double Trap Shooting – Prelims

22. Glenn Eller (USA) – 0.840

Men's 50m Freestyle – Heats

1. George Bovell (TRI) – 21.77

2. Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 21.80

12. Gideon Louw (RSA) – 22.12

20. Adam Brown (GBR) – 22.39

Men's 50m Freestyle – Semifinals

T1. Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 21.54

5. George Bovell (TRI) – 21.77

9. Gideon Louw (RSA) – 21.92

Men's 100m Butterfly – Heats

7. Tyler McGill (USA) – 51.95

Men's 100m Butterfly – Semifinals

3. Tyler McGill (USA) – 51.61

Women's 200m Backstroke – Heats

3. Kirsty Coventry (ZWE) – 2:08.14

30. Laure Manaudou (FRA) – 2:14.29

Women's 200m Backstroke – Semifinals

6. Kirsty Coventry (ZWE) – 2:08.32

Women's 200m Breaststroke – Final

6. Micah Lawrence (USA) – 2:23.27

Friday's Auburn Olympic Schedule


Men's Shot Put Qualifying (4 a.m. CT)

Stephen Saenz (MEX)

Women's 100m Round 1 (1:05 p.m. CT)

Sheniqua Ferguson (BAH)

Kerron Stewart (JAM)

Men's Shot Put Finals (2:30 p.m. CT)