2012 London Olympics: Australia, United States, The Netherland 1-2-3 in Women’s 400 Free Relay Qualifying

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LONDON, England, July 28. THE first session of preliminary qualifying at the 2012 London Olympics came to a close with some strong freestyle sprinting by the women in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Australia's Emily Seebohm (54.24), Brittany Elmslie (53.41), Yolane Kukla (54.61) and Libby Trickett (54.08) raced to the top of the finale field with a 3:36.34, setting the 2004 champions up for a potential return to the top of the podium after taking bronze in 2008.

“We don't know how much the Dutch have left in the tank and the US will probably make a few changes,” Trickett said. “We've got our top girls in this event coming through. We are not going to go out to come second or third. We are going to go out after it. The awesome thing for us is we are not the favourites. We are the underdogs. Aussies love an underdog and we are going to go out fighting. That's for sure.”

The U.S. foursome of Lia Neal (54.15), Amanda Weir (54.37), Natalie Coughlin (53.93) and Allison Schmitt (54.08) posted the second-fastest time of the morning with a 3:36.53. Coughlin put herself in position for her record-tying 12th Olympic medal with her sterling relay leg. She already has 11 medals to her name (three gold, four silver, four bronze). She can tie Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most medals by a female. The team, meanwhile, is looking to get back on top after two straight Olympiads with silver. The U.S. had won three straight from 1992-2000.

“Once I got into the water I kind of looked to the side,” Coughlin said. “I could see that we were ahead and that gave me a lot of confidence for my race.”

The Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis (54.73), Inge Dekker (53.79), Hinkelien Schreuder (55.62) and Femke Heemskerk (53.62) posted the third-seeded time with a 3:37.76, but will be looking to defend its Olympic gold medal from 2008 during finals tonight.

China (3:37.91), Japan (3:38.06), Denmark (3:38.09), Sweden (3:38.21) and Great Britain (3:38.21) snagged the rest of the transfer spots into the championship final.

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