Though he didn’t medal in Wednesday’s 200-meter breastroke finals at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, Scott Weltz put himself in lofty company with his 2-minute, 9.02-second swim.
The time put the UC Davis graduate and local college and youth swim coach in fifth place … in the world.
Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta claimed the gold medal, setting a world record in the process with his time of 2:07.28. He led a star-studded field that included silver medalist Michael Jamieson of Great Britain, who posted the top time in Tuesday’s semifinal (Weltz was fourth) and Japan’s Ryo Tateishi, who won the bronze medal in a time of 2:08.29.
Two-time gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima, who was outtouched by Weltz in the second semifinal heat on Tuesday, came in fourth, clocking in at 2:08.35. Weltz’s American teammate Clark Burkle was sixth (2:09.25).
As the former Aggie superstar and 2010 UCD graduate touched the wall for his top-five finish, his coach Pete Motekaitis — a veteran of the Davis aquatics scene — exulted in the performance from the stands at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park. A group of more than 200 local fans — which included many youngsters from the Davis AquaMonsters, a youth swim team coached by Motekaitis and Weltz — also let out cheers from The Davis Graduate, where they gathered Wednesday to watch the final.
Swimming in lane six, Weltz found himself in eighth place at the end of 150 meters, turning in a split time of 29.65 in the first 50 against an incredibly fast field. Yet, as he did when he placed first in the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June and in each swim at the Olympics, Weltz surged in the final 50 meters to move up three spots and claim fifth place with a final split time of 33.16.
The former Aggie burst onto the international scene after upsetting Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau at the Trials qualifying for the London games with the world’s sixth-best time (2:09.01).
Weltz finished third in his preliminary heat on Tuesday — and seventh overall— with swim of 2:09.67, before advancing to the finals with a semifinal time of 2:08.99 later that evening. It was a personal-best mark for Weltz.
The two-time Big West swimmer of the year and co-winner of the Colby E. “Babe” Slater Award as UCD’s outstanding male athlete of the year, finished 38th in the 200 breast at the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Weltz is one of three athletes competing at the Summer Olympics who are affiliated with UCD. Kim Conley, who enjoyed a standout cross country and track and field career and is now a volunteer assistant coach for the Aggies, will race in the women’s 5,000 meters, beginning Tuesday.
Conley will run her prelim very early that morning (2:50 a.m.), and should she make the finals, The Graduate will show the race at 12:05 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10.
In her third Olympic appearance, incoming UCD veterinary student Carrie Johnson competes in the 500-meter singles kayaking event on Tuesday (2 a.m. for heats) and the 200-meter singles on Aug. 10 (2:15 a.m. for heats).
The upcoming events can be watched online at www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra. Online viewers must have a cable or satellite subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC to log in.