LONDON (Reuters) - China's Cao Zhongrong moved to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday after a closely fought swimming event in the modern pentathlon, which is celebrating its 100th birthday at the London Games.
Cao, whose favorite events are the fencing and riding, swam the 200 meters freestyle in one minute 58.93 seconds, the third fastest time in the Aquatics Pool and enough, after his second place in the earlier fencing event, to leapfrog David Svoboda into first with 2,376 points.
Czech military officer Svoboda, who had topped the leaderboard after the fencing, struggled in his swimming heat and finished 17th out of the 36 athletes, making him second overall with 2,328 points.
Russian world number one Aleksander Lesun, who is hoping to cap a memorable 2012 - he won the world championships and became a father earlier this year - was in third after the fencing and swimming, on 2,312 points.
The fastest time in the pool was produced by Egypt's Amro El Geziry, a doctor by profession, who notched up a modern pentathlon Olympic record of 1:55:50, putting him into fifth going into the riding.
Egged on a by a small but enthusiastic crowd, Britain's Nicholas Woodbridge swam 1:57:32, the second quickest time, giving him eighth place overall.
The day-long contest now moves to Greenwich Park for the horse riding, running and shooting that complete the five events.
(Reporting by Paul Majendie and Rosalba O'Brien, Editing by Clare Fallon)