2013worldsspeedo Megan Romano
Courtesy of: Joan Marc Bosch
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BARCELONA, Spain, July 28. IN what is becoming routine, USA's Megan Romano delivered yet another ridiculous anchor leg as Team USA topped the women's 400-meter freestyle relay at the FINA World Championships.

With the Stars and Stripes nearly a second behind Australia heading into the anchor leg, Romano threw down a 52.60 for the win. Along with Missy Franklin (53.51), Natalie Coughlin (52.98) and Shannon Vreeland (53.22), the foursome put together a blistering 3:32.31. That time demolished the previous American record of 3:34.24 set by Franklin (53.52), Jessica Hardy (53.53), Lia Neal (53.65) and Allison Schmitt (53.54) at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Romano is quickly developing a reputation as the best anchor swimmer in the world, one to be feared when entering the water. At the World University Games, she nearly made up a two-second gap for Team USA, while she's also turned in some jaw-dropping splits for the University of Georgia in short course yard competition at the NCAA level.

That's Team USA's fifth title in the event, but first since 2003 when Coughlin, Lindsay Benko, Rhi Jeffrey and Jenny Thompson earned the world title in 3:38.09. That's a pretty long drought for the Stars and Stripes in nearly any relay.

The win also produced Coughlin's 19th career world medal, including the seventh gold, in her legendary career. That's an astonishing haul of hardware to consider.

Australia had nearly everything it needed to reclaim the title it had won in 2005 and 2007, beginning with a textile best leadoff from Cate Campbell of 52.33 with her sister Bronte 53.47) and Emma McKeon (53.19) giving Alicia Coutts a strong lead heading into the anchor. Coutts, however, obviously felt the strain of the triple that included semis in the 200 IM and 100 fly as Coutts posted a 53.44 en route to a 3:32.43 for the Aussies.

Two-time defending champion Netherlands wound up taking bronze as Elise Bouwens (55.68), Femke Heemskerk (52.86), Inge Dekker (54.58) and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (52.65) tallied a 3:35.77 for third.

Sweden (3:36.56), Canada (3:37.09), Russia (3:38.45), Japan (3:39.45) and Germany (3:39.57) rounded out the rest of the heat with Canada whacking another second off its national record.

Additionally, both Team USA and Australia undercut the previous textile best of 3:33.15 set by Australia at the 2012 London Olympics.

Team USA following the victory!

Results: FINA World Championships: Women's 400 Free Relay Finals

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