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SHANGHAI, China, July 29. THE French attempted to put a scare into the United States in the men's 800 free relay, but Ryan Lochte would have none of it as his monster anchor leg secured a fourth straight world title for the U.S. in the event at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
The foursome of Michael Phelps (1:45.53), Peter Vanderkaay (1:46.07), Ricky Berens (1:46.51) and Ryan Lochte (1:44.56) put together a textile best of 7:02.67 in the distance relay event. That performance eclipsed the 7:03.24 set by the U.S. at the 2007 Pan Pacific Championships.
"We still have the possibility to be faster than that swim," Phelps said.
Amazingly, Lochte nearly matched his anchor leg of 1:44.46 from the U.S. world record of 6:58.55 that occurred during the techsuit era at the 2009 World Championships.
"I knew I needed to have a lot of energy," Lochte said. "I just knew that I could go that fast."
The U.S. has now won four straight iterations of the event at the World Championships, breaking a tie with Australia. Australia had won three straight from 1998 to 2003, but the U.S. is the first nation to win four in a row.
France's Yannick Agnel (1:45.25), Gregory Mallet (1:46.81), Jeremy Stravius (1:45.40) and Fabien Gilot (1:47.35) gave the U.S. a bit of a run, leading the race after the third leg, but settled with a second-place 7:04.81.
China's Wang Shun (1:47.09), Zhang Lin (1:46.14), Li Yunqi (1:47.30) and Sun Yang (1:45.14) finished third in 7:05.67.
"I'm feeling powerful today, so this race should not have an influence on my 1500 free tomorrow," Sun said. "On the contrary, after the 800 free and the relay, my body should be more relaxed. Before the relay, we did think about competing with the Americans, but did not expect to win. Our main rivals were the French and Japanese. The four of us performed greatly, especially Zhang Lin who just returned to the pool. Many people anticipate me breaking a world record this week, but all I want is just to have good races."
Germany (7:08.32), Australia (7:08.48), Great Britain (7:10.84), Japan (7:10.92) and Italy (7:12.26) completed the rest of the championship heat.