By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 28. KAITLIN SANDENO wasn’t going to let the United States lose the 800-meter freestyle relay to the Australians on Thursday night. One of the most clutch performers in the American arsenal, Sandeno rallied the Stars and Stripes to gold at Parc Jean-Drapeau with an anchor split of 1:57.57 that gave the U.S. a finishing mark of 7:53.70. Producing the second-fastest time in history, the U.S. held off the Aussies, who went 7:54.06 – the 3rd fastest all-time.
Holding the world record at 7:53.42, achieved in Athens last summer, the United States benefited from the quartet of Natalie Coughlin (1:58.82), Katie Hoff (1:58.50), Whitney Myers (1:58.81) and Sandeno. The foursome was phenomenal and battled back from a sizable deficit created by Australia’s Lisbeth Lenton. The sprint sensation, who holds the second best 100 free all-time, showed her endurance on the leadoff leg with fastest relay split in history, clocking 1:57.06. The swim ranks fourth-quickest all-time and an Aussie record. It would have won the individual 200 free here by a second and a half.
After Lenton, Australia turned to Shayne Reese (2:00.00), Bronte Barratt (1:58.58) and Linda Mackenzie (1:58.42). The U.S. trailed for the first 14 laps of the 16-lap race, until Sandeno took the lead on the penultimate leg. She then held on to the wall and sparked a United States celebration. Individually, Sandeno will swim the 400 individual medley in the coming days.
China rallied for the bronze medal as Yang Yu overtook Great Britain’s Rebecca Cooke on the anchor leg. The Chinese were timed in 7:57.29 while the Brits managed a mark of 7:59.04. Fifth place was notched by France in 8:01.43 and sixth went to Japan (8:04.20). The field was rounded out by Canada (8:07.56) and New Zealand (8:07.95).