Flu dashed the gold medal hopes of Kate Ziegler in the 800 freestyle (Jamie Squire / Getty Images )
LONDON---For United States swimmers, qualifying heats tend be to tune-ups. For Kate Ziegler, who was projected to win a medal in the women's 800 freestyle, the qualifying heat was the beginning and end of her Olympic Games.
Ziegler finished last in her heat and 21st overall, two spots behind a swimmer from Lebanon.
Ziegler, 24, swam the 800 free at the 2008 Olympics, finishing 14th. She arrived in London with the third-fastest time in the world in her event this year.
She said she awoke the day after the opening ceremony, felt ill and was diagnosed with the flu. She slept "12 or 13 hours" two nights ago, with long naps, and without the energy to train as hard as she normally would.
"I did a lot of sleeping, and I was in the water each day," Ziegler said, "but we had to cut back on what we did."
She called the race "a bummer" but broke down in tears as she discussed it.
"I came into this race thinking I was going to fight and do the best I could," she said, "and that's what I did."
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