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Men's 400 Freestyle Relay Prelims: South Africans Rock with a New Continental Record 3:13.84, Second Fastest in History; US Qualifies Second  -- August 15, 2004

By Stephen J. Thomas

ATHENS, Greece. 15 August. THE 400 freestyle relay is always a crowd-pleaser. The event, formerly owned by the USA, was won in Sydney by the Australians in a world record that still stands today.

Up until last year, the sprint relay in Athens appeared to be shaping up as another US vs. Australia battle. But then Russia won the crown at last year's World Championships, vaulting the Popov-anchored Russskies into the mix, along with the surprising French.

Then, a few months ago, Swimming World magazine pointed out an overlooked contender: little South Africa. The Springboks quickly became the darling of all those folks who cheer for the underdog, who identify with David against the Goliaths of the swimming world.

But few expected the South Africans to pull off what they did this morning, with a sensational prelim swim - 3:13.84, the second fastest in history. Only the world record set in Sydney by the Aussies when they took gold ahead of the Yanks in one of the great relay battles in the history of Olympic swimming is faster. On that day USA went 3:13.86, 0.02 of a second slower than the Springboks this morning. It is expected that the South Africans will probably go with the same team tonight.

Team USA was second fastest this morning in 3:15.83 but there will be up to three changes to the team tonight with Phelps, Crocker and Lezak coming onto the team.

Neil Walker's 48.16 was easily the fastest American split this morning, a performance which almost certainly will nail down the #4 spot on the US relay team for the Texas grad. Gary Hall, Jr., who protested a procedure in which Michael Phelps was placed on the relay without swimming the 100 free at Trials and without a swim-off to earn the spot, had the second-fastest split at 48.73.

Italy was third in 3:16.18 and will have Filippo Magnini, ranked fifth in 2004 over the distance, to call on. The Dutch were next in 3:16.42 and they will call on that man Hoogenband, who has the two fastest splits in history to give them a shot at a medal.

The Russians, reigning world champs with Alex Popov and France with Fred Bousquet will also be in the race.

Australia, the 2000 Olympic champions, will struggle to be in the medals. Ashley Callus, part of the team in Sydney, did not perform this morning and may be replaced. A likely Aussie team with be Ian Thorpe, Todd Pearson, Michael Klim and 18-year-old rookie Eamon Sullivan.


RESULTS

Men 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Heats


Record Splits NOC Location Date
WR 3:13.67 48.18 1:36.66 2:25.37 3:13.67 AUS Sydney (AUS) 16 SEP 2000
OR 3:13.67 48.18 1:36.66 2:25.37 3:13.67 AUS Sydney (AUS) 16 SEP 2000


Final Event No: 12

Rank Heat Lane NOC Name R.T. 50m 100m Time Time
Behind
1 1 6 RSA 3:13.84 AF
SCHOEMAN Roland Mark 0.66 22.89 48.38 48.38
FERNS Lyndon 0.20 22.89 48.34 1:36.72
TOWNSEND Darian 0.27 22.84 49.13 2:25.85
NEETHLING Ryk 0.39 22.79 47.99 3:13.84
2 1 4 USA 3:15.83 1.99
WOODWARD Gabe 0.70 23.62 49.93 49.93
DUSING Nate 0.14 23.12 49.01 1:38.94
WALKER Neil 0.19 22.57 48.16 2:27.10
HALL Gary 0.08 22.91 48.73 3:15.83
3 1 5 ITA 3:16.18 2.34
VISMARA Lorenzo 0.82 24.06 49.67 49.67
SCARICA Michele 0.11 23.78 48.92 1:38.59
CALVI Alessandro 0.15 23.73 49.35 2:27.94
GALENDA Christian 0.26 22.66 48.24 3:16.18
4 1 2 NED 3:16.42 2.58
VEENS Mark 0.81 23.72 49.73 49.73
KENKHUIS Johan 0.23 23.07 48.80 1:38.53
ZASTROW Mitja 0.26 23.39 48.90 2:27.43
ZWERING Klaas-Erik 0.34 23.47 48.99 3:16.42
5 2 4 RUS 3:17.46 3.62
KAPRALOV Andrey 0.80 23.85 49.12 49.12
LAGUNOV Evgeny 0.22 23.58 49.68 1:38.80
USOV Ivan 0.21 23.71 49.86 2:28.66
PIMANKOV Denis 0.36 22.99 48.80 3:17.46
6 2 5 FRA 3:17.64 3.80
BARNIER Romain 0.73 24.15 49.73 49.73
SICOT Julien 0.36 23.73 49.29 1:39.02
GILOT Fabien 0.21 23.43 49.21 2:28.23
LEVEAUX Amaury 0.26 23.73 49.41 3:17.64
6 2 3 AUS 3:17.64 3.80
CALLUS Ashley 0.76 24.16 50.04 50.04
SULLIVAN Eamon 0.22 23.49 49.13 1:39.17
van HAZEL Jono 0.19 23.11 49.65 2:28.82
PEARSON Todd 0.21 23.48 48.82 3:17.64
8 1 3 GER 3:17.97 4.13
KUNZELMANN Stephan 0.84 23.75 50.09 50.09
KELLER Christian 0.11 23.72 50.16 1:40.25
SPANNEBERG Torsten 0.31 23.46 49.36 2:29.61
CONRAD Lars 0.13 23.19 48.36 3:17.97

9 2 6 CAN 3:18.35 4.51
LUPIEN Yannick 0.73 23.87 50.16 50.16
JANES Riley 0.11 23.11 49.49 1:39.65
MINTENKO Michael 0.21 23.39 49.60 2:29.25
HAYDEN Brent 0.29 23.32 49.10 3:18.35
10 2 1 UKR 3:18.95 5.11
SYZONENKO Denys 0.93 24.37 50.05 50.05
SERDINOV Andriy 0.22 23.95 49.94 1:39.99
KHNYKIN Pavlo 0.27 23.52 49.47 2:29.46
YEGOSHIN Yuriy 0.17 23.40 49.49 3:18.95
11 1 7 LTU 3:19.28 5.44
GIMBUTIS Rolandas 0.77 23.44 49.11 49.11
BINEVICIUS Saulius 0.32 24.14 50.35 1:39.46
VIKTORAVICIUS Paulius 0.27 22.89 50.20 2:29.66
JANUSAITIS Vytautas 0.29 23.44 49.62 3:19.28
12 2 7 BRA 3:20.20 6.36
SOUZA Jader 0.74 24.07 50.89 50.89
BORGES Gustavo 0.09 23.90 49.59 1:40.48
JAYME Carlos 0.11 23.18 49.67 2:30.15
CASTRO Rodrigo 0.06 23.99 50.05 3:20.20
13 1 1 CRO 3:21.01 7.17
DRAGANJA Duje 0.81 23.74 50.38 50.38
DELAC Mario 0.15 23.67 49.75 1:40.13
MLADINA Ivan 0.18 23.75 50.16 2:30.29
CERENSEK Igor 0.04 23.65 50.72 3:21.01
14 2 8 GRE 3:24.26 10.42
GRIGORIADIS Aristeidis 0.89 24.56 50.15 50.15
TSOLTOS Alexandros 0.10 23.94 51.03 1:41.18
BITSAKIS Spyridon 0.32 24.34 52.25 2:33.43
ZISIMOS Andreas 0.35 24.92 50.83 3:24.26
15 1 8 CHN 3:24.31 10.47
CHEN Zuo 0.78 24.60 50.75 50.75
LIU Weijia 0.24 24.39 51.15 1:41.90
ZHENG Kunliang 0.39 24.74 51.34 2:33.24
HUANG Shaohua 0.48 24.43 51.07 3:24.31
2 2 SWE DSQ
la FLEUR Eric 0.77 24.28 50.43 50.43
NYSTRAND Stefan 0.13 22.73 48.61 1:39.04
OHLIN Mattias 0.07 23.45 50.24 2:29.28
FROLANDER Lars -0.12

Results: 2004 Olympic Games