FINA World Championships editorial coverage is proudly sponsored by SpeedoUSA. For all the latest coverage, check out our event coverage page.
BARCELONA, Spain, August 2. THE last time Team USA did not win the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay happened 10 years ago here in Barcelona, but history may not repeat itself after Team USA put up a strong effort this morning at the FINA World Championships.
Keyed by a strong 1:45.66 third leg by Charlie Houchin, Team USA’s Matt McLean (1:47.63), Michael Klueh (1:47.70), Houchin and Ricky Berens (1:47.06) easily topped prelims with a 7:08.05. Even though Russia gave the U.S. a run for their money earlier in the race, once Houchin took to the water the final decision on prelims was assured.
Houchin secured a spot on the championship relay alongside Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte. Berens will likely get the nod for the fourth spot this evening as the Stars and Stripes take a run at title number five.
Russia’s Danila Izotov (1:47.50), Nikita Lobintsev (1:46.82), Artem Lobuzov (1:47.69) and Alexander Sukhorukov (1:47.86) qualified second in 7:09.87, while Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda (1:47.92), Sho Sotodate (1:46.46), Yuki Kobori (1:47.57) and Daiya Seto (1:48.03) finished third in 7:09.98.
France (7:10.66), Belgium (7:10.69), Germany (7:11.06), Great Britain (7:13.00) and China (7:13.37) comprised the rest of the championship finale.
Team USA is now in line for a fifth straight victory. The last time another team won the gold medal, it was the Australians made up of Grant Hackett, Craig Stevens, Nicholas Sprenger and Ian Thorpe.
If someone does oust the U.S. from the top of the podium 10 years later, however, it won’t be the Aussies. The squad from Down Under sat in stunned silence looking at the scoreboard at a ninth-place 7:13.52 that left them out of the finale.