Miguel Duran Navia was a longshot in the 400-meter freestyle, but the significance of swimming in the Olympics was crystal clear on his face when he thought he blew his chance.
The Spanish swimmer slapped at the water and covered his face after he prematurely entered the pool during his heat. While the other seven swimmers stayed on the blocks, Duran Navia false started his race. He thought his chances in the event were over before they ever began.
Duran Navia gathered his belongings and walked off the pool deck in tears.
A few minutes later, he had to shake off those emotions and get ready for his Olympic moment. After Duran Navia left the deck, judges deliberated and determined that a sound in the crowd was the reason for the false start.
The noise caused Duran Navia to flinch and slowly fall forward. He held on to the blocks for as long as possible, but eventually fell past the point of no return and jumped into the water.
His return to race didn’t yield a tremendous comeback story, though. Duran Navia finished eighth in his heat with a time of 3:53.40, over four seconds slower than the 3:48.96 he swam to earn a spot in the Summer Games. He would’ve needed to finish in a time better than 3:45.43 to swim in the final.
Duran Navia will get another shot at redemption on Tuesday when he’s part of Spain’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay. Spain qualified with the tenth-best time and will need to climb to the top eight to advance to the final.