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FINA World Championships, Swimming: Flash! Women's 400 Free Relay Features Two World Records, The Netherlands Win Race, Britta Steffen Lowers 100 Free With Leadoff -- July 26, 2009

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ROME, Italy, July 26. THE Netherlands came through as the favorites, edging Germany for the women's 400 free relay gold medal and world record at the FINA World Championships.


Inge Dekker (53.61), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (52.30), Femke Heemskerk (53.03) and Marleen Veldhuis (52.78) won the race in 3:31.72 to lower their world record of 3:33.62 set in 2008.

Germany gave the gold medal a serious go as Britta Steffen (52.22), Daniela Samulski (53.49), Petra Dallmann (53.75) and Daniela Schreiber (52.37) finished second in 3:31.83, also under the world record. Steffen's 100 free leadoff smashed her individual global mark of 52.56 set last month.

Australia's Libby Trickett (52.62), Marieke Guehrer (53.60), Shayne Reese (53.25) and Felicity Galvez (53.54) placed third in 3:33.01.

The U.S. contingent of Amanda Weir (54.47), Dara Torres (53.72), Christine Magnuson (53.86) and Dana Vollmer (53.18) finished outside the podium with a fourth-place time of 3:35.23.


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July 26, 2009 Back to the drawing board for the U.S. women; first time they didn't make the podium in this event in WC history, and even if they'd had Coughlin aboard at her best, and if Torres was at her best, they would have barely gotten bronze. 54's and high 53's just don't cut it anymore. With Torres looking increasingly doubtful for 2012, will be interesting to see who else besides Vollmer will step up between now and then; looks like we'll need at least two in the 52's to be competitive, even adjusting back for the slower suits....
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