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SHANGHAI, China, July 30. THE United States put a serious run together in the women's 400 medley relay, but came up just short of the world record to end the penultimate night of the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Natalie Coughlin (59.12), Rebecca Soni (1:04.71), Dana Vollmer (55.74) and Missy Franklin (52.79) moved the U.S. into second all time with a 3:52.36. Only China has been faster with a world record of 3:52.19 from the techsuit era when China won the event at the 2009 World Championships.
"We talked about the world record," Coughlin said. "We new it was possible. When we finished, and I saw that we had the American record and were close to the world record, I was pleased."
The time crushed the American record of 3:53.30 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and far surpassed the textile best time of 3:55.23 clocked by the U.S. at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships.
The win is the first for the U.S. in the event since Lea Maurer, Kristy Kowal, Jenny Thompson and Amy Van Dyken topped the podium at the 1998 World Championships in Perth. Australia and China have won the other iterations of the event in between.
"This is unbelievable," Franklin said. "This was my last session in my first world championships, and I'm just really happy today."
China's Zhao Jing (59.24), Ji Liping (1:06.27), Lu Ying (56.77) and Tang Yi (53.33) finished second in 3:55.61, while Australia's Belinda Hocking (59.91), Leisel Jones (1:06.18), Alicia Coutts (56.69) and Merindah Dingjan (54.35) completed the podium with a 3:57.13.
Russia (3:57.38), Japan (3:57.38) and Great Britain (4:01.09) finished fourth through sixth, while both Canada and Germany were disqualified.