By John Lohn
MELBOURNE, Australia, March 24. ITALY, on the strength of Filippo Magnini's anchor split of 47.39, grabbed the top seed for the men's 400 freestyle relay final. The Italian foursome of Lorenzo Vismara, Christian Galenda, Alessandro Calvi and Magnini went 3:15.83. It initially appeared the Italians were second in their heat, but a disqualification of Russia changed the result. Magnini more than made up for the pedestrian 50.37 of Vismara leading off.
Sweden took the second slot for the championship final and the United States followed in third. Sweden was timed in 3:16.16 behind the squad of Petter Stymne, Stefan Nystrand, Christoffer Wikstrom and Marcus Piehl. As for the USA, it turned to the grouping of Garrett Weber-Gale, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, Cullen Jones and Neil Walker for a mark of 3:16.43. The U.S. is expected to insert Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak into the evening lineup.
Australia and France were the fourth and fifth qualifiers, in 3:16.46 and 3:16.51. For France, Julien Sicot had a strong third leg, going 48.59. The other three positions for the final went to Canada, Brazil and South Africa. Brazil got a 49.13 leadoff from Cesar Cielo, who last week set NCAA records in the 50 and 100 freestyles. As for South Africa, it got away with the gamble of not using Roland Schoeman in the morning prelims.