LONDON (WRCB/UGA) -- Already with silver and bronze medals around her neck at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Allison Schmitt finally snagged the one she wanted the most.
The 22-year-old became the first University of Georgia swimmer to win an individual gold medal when she blew away the field in the women's 200-meter freestyle final Tuesday in London. Schmitt touched the wall in 1:53.61, nearly two full seconds ahead of France's Camille Muffat, who went 1:55.58.
Schmitt lowered the Olympic record (1:54.82 set by Italy's Frederica Pellegrini in 2008) and her own American record (1:54.40 set at the United States Olympic Trials in July) in the process.
"I was just racing," Schmitt said. "I knew I had to kick it. I just look at that scoreboard and see 53 and first place. I couldn't be happier."
Schmitt is the fifth Georgia swimmer to win gold, but the previous four came on relays. She'd already won bronze in the 4x100 relay and silver in the 400m freestyle at the London Games, and also owns a bronze from Beijing.
"It was an outstanding swim right from the start," said Georgia coach Jack Bauerle, who is in London. "She just went out and did it. She took care of business immediately and it was never in doubt. She swam such a great race. She was absolutely outstanding. I am so happy for Allison, her family, Team USA and Georgia. She made us all so proud.
"Allison was in a very good place before the meet. I could tell something special was possible. She's always a happy person, but when it was over, she was as happy as I've ever seen her. She was just beaming."
Schmitt's return to the podium also matched the school record of four medals set by Kara Lynn Joyce at the 2004 and 2008 Games.
"She told me she wanted a medal of every color," said Bauerle. "She's got them now."
Schmitt's final event of the Olympics will be on Wednesday when she swims on the heavily favored 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
Schmitt redshirted this past season as she trained in Baltimore with Coach Bob Bowman and a club that included Michael Phelps to prepare for the Olympics. The rising senior is a 15-time All-American, an eight-time NCAA champion and a five-time SEC champion.
"She dedicated herself to this and it's paid off for her," Bauerle said. "We'll definitely welcome her back with open arms. She's a great team person."
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