ROME, Italy, July 26. GERMANY, with 100 free world record holder Britta Steffen on lead leg, topped preliminary qualifying in the women's 400 free relay at the FINA World Championships with a meet record.
Steffen, Daniela Samulski, Petra Dallmann and Daniela Schreiber qualified in 3:34.74 to break the meet record of 3:35.48 set by Australia in 2007. The Netherlands' Femke Heenskerk, Hinkelien Schreuder, Inge Dekker and Ranomi Kromowidjojo took second in 3:34.94, while Australia's Sally Foster, Marieke Guehrer, Shayne Reese and Meagan Nay touched third in 3:35.26.
Sweden (3:35.31), China (3:36.85), Great Britain (3:37.02), United States (3:37.12) and Hungary (3:37.64) comprised the rest of the finale field.
Fran Halsall scorched Great Britain's 100 free leadoff with a 53.02. The performance broke Natalie Coughlin's meet record of 53.40, and demolished Halsall's national record of 53.81 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.