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SHANGHAI, China, July 31. THE United States claimed its fourth gold medal out of the last five chances in the men's 400 medley relay with a close victory over Australia to conclude the 2011 FINA World Long Course Championships.
Nick Thoman (53.61), Mark Gangloff (1:00.24), Michael Phelps (50.23) and Nathan Adrian (47.98) turned in a 3:32.06 for the win, to defend its title from 2009, and match its victories from 2003 and 2005. The United States has dominated this event since it first began being offered in 1973. The U.S. actually won the first seven world titles in the event, until Australia picked up the 1998 title.
The win gave Phelps his 33rd career world championships medal, and his 26th world title in what is likely to be his last go around at a world championships. Phelps has been on record stating that the 2012 London Olympics will be his final meet. Although, with all of the comebacks that have happened in the last year, we might still see Phelps back in the game by the 2016 Olympics.
"I'm glad we were able to finish off the meet like that," Phelps said. "The relay race is all about teamwork, and just finding a way to get gold. I got into the water a little bit behind, so that gave me a lot of motivation. It was a fun swim, since I didn't know which team was next to me. I was just working to catch up, getting closer and closer."
James Magnussen made it close for the Aussies with a blazing anchor of 47.00 as Hayden Stoeckel (54.22), Brenton Rickard (59.32), Geoff Huegill (51.72) and Magnussen finished with a silver in 3:32.26. Germany's Helge Meeuw (53.53), Hendrik Feldwehr (59.72), Ben Starke (51.83) and Paul Biedermann (47.52) won bronze in 3:32.60.
"We got the silver, which is really exciting," Magnussen said. "I will get some rest after this meet."
Japan, unfortunately, could not find a freestyle leg strong enough to hold on for a medal. Ryosuke Irie (52.94), Kosuke Kitajima (59.59) and Takuro Fujii (51.55) gave Japan the lead at the 300-meter mark, but Shogo Hihara's 48.81 wasn't enough as Japan wound up fourth in 3:32.89.
The Netherlands (3:34.11), Great Britain (3:36.58), Canada (3:36.80) and Poland (3:37.44) also competed in the finale.