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BARCELONA, Spain, August 4. The Americans only felt the glory of victory in the men’a 400 medley relay momentarily: an early take-off during the first transition between backstroker Matt Grevers and breaststroker Kevin Cordes cost the Americans their gold medal.
Kevin Cordes dove in 0.04 seconds early, which may not have been entirely his fault. Oftentimes, when a swimmer false starts in a relay transition, especially at this level, it is the perfect storm of an overexcited dive and a long glide into the touch. It was Cordes’ first time taking off from Matt Grevers in this type of high-pressure situation, and that inexperienced partnership resulted in a disqualification of the American team.
On the final day of competition, everyone is tired; on day 8, the backstrokers face the most pressure of all the swimmers in the relay because their times will be splashed on the scoreboard for all to see. The pressure and exhaustion probably affected the way Grevers came into the wall. Additionally, Cordes was looking to redeem himself after what must have been a frustrating week of swimming in Barcelona, and may have gotten overly excited. This disqualification will no doubt be a learning experience for not only both swimmers involved in the transition, but USA swimming as well.
In the end, France’s Camille Lacourt (53.32), Giacomo Perez-Dortona (59.56), Jeremy Stravius (51.33) and Fabien Gilot (47.39) capitalized on the mistake to win gold in 3:31.51. That’s the first time a team other than the U.S. or Australia has ever won the event since being introduced in 1973 with a USA win ahead of the East Germans.
Australia’s Ashley Delaney (53.55), Christian Sprenger (58.47), Tommaso D’Orsogna (52.34) and James Magnussen (47.28) took silver in 3:31.64, while Japan’s Ryosuke Irie (53.48), Kosuke Kitajima (59.29), Takuro Fujii (51.67) and Shinri Shioura (47.82) placed third for bronze in 3:32.26.
Russia (3:32.74), Germany (3:33.97), Italy (3:34.06) and Hungary (3:34.09) turned in legal times to round out the finale.