INDIANAPOLIS, October 7. "The water was choppy," said US sprinter Neil Walker, "so the strategy was to get out fast to try and avoid the waves."
The goal: nothing less than the world record. "We hoped the crowd would carry us," he added.
The result — with the enthusiastic aid of the crowd — was an impressive victory, with a time less than four-tenths of a second off the world record.
"It's hard to put together a great relay at this time of year, with everyone at different stages in their training … or layoff," said Walker.
"Under the circumstances, we swam pretty well."
Nick Brunelli got the US going with a 48.52 second leadoff, as Brazil and Sweden also had leadoff legs under world record pace. Neil Walker (47.38)
and Nate Dusing (47.49) followed with outstanding 47-second splits. Jason Lezak anchored with a powerful 46.57-second effort, the only split under 47 seconds, as he brought the Stars and Stripes home in 3:09.96.
Germany followed in 3:12.73, while Canada (3:13.62) overtook Sweden for third.
Four other swimmers posted 47-second splits: Sweden's Stefan Nystrand (47.24), Brazil's Nicholas Santos (47.45) and Canada's Rick Say (47.76) and Matt Rose (47.97).