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LONDON, England, August 1. AUSTRALIA and the United States set up a battle this evening in the women's 800-meter freestyle relay as the two clocked the top two times in the morning session at the 2012 London Olympics.
Australia's Brittany Elmslie (1:57.50), Angie Bainbridge (1:57.70), Jade Neilsen (1:57.25) and Blair Evans (1:56.99) won the first heat with a 7:49.44. The Aussies are looking to defend their title after winning the event in 2008 ahead of China and the U.S. Before 2008, the U.S. had won the first three iterations of the event in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
“I was more nervous for this than I was for my IM (individual medley),” Evans said. “I love swimming relays. I love representing my country with three other girls. I love going last and did the best I could. Two days ago. After my 400 IM (individual medley) I was not really happy with not making the final but I had a really strong freestyle leg and so I think they decided to give me a chance in the heat.”
No one could touch the U.S. in the second heat as Lauren Perdue (1:58.07), Shannon Vreeland (1:57.04), Alyssa Anderson (1:57.33) and Dana Vollmer (1:58.31) won their heat in 7:50.75 for the second seed. Canada's Barbara Jardin (1:57.76), Samantha Cheverton (1:57.38), Amanda Reason (1:58.51) and Brittany Maclean (1:57.19) picked up the third seed out of heat one with a 7:50.84.
“It was awesome as we had three rookies out there,” Vollmer said. “It's different. Having three amazing women look up to me is just incredible. The USA have some really good rookies coming through the set-up, so it's exciting for the future.”
Italy enjoyed a powerful anchor leg from Federica Pellegrini, who posted a 1:56.46 to help Alice Mizzau (1:57.95), Alice Nesti (1:59.80) and Diletta Carli (1:58.54) to fourth in 7:52.75. Camille Muffat, however, produced the most impressive split of the morning with a 1:55.57 anchor for France as Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne (1:58.42), Margaux Farrell (2:00.06) and Mylene Lazare (1:58.82) combined with Muffat for a fifth-place 7:52.88.
“It's my last day, I told the girls that I counted on them and that they were ready,” Muffat said. “I hope that if we get to the final we will have a good relay. I will do my best this afternoon and we have been calming each other and cheering each other up.”
China (7:53.66), Great Britain (7:54.31) and Japan (7:54.56) also made their way into finals, with Hungary just missing with a ninth-place time of 7:54.58.
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