By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 29. IT was a splendid foursome in Athens last summer and even better in Montreal. Never challenged, the United States roared to the gold medal on Friday night in the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay, using the same lineup that produced gold at the Olympic Games. The Americans were timed in 7:06.58, a new national record.
After Michael Phelps gave the U.S. a comfortable margin following a leadoff split of 1:45.51, Ryan Lochte handled the second leg in 1:48.22 before leaving matters to Peter Vanderkaay (1:46.52). Klete Keller anchored the unit in 1:46.33, putting the United States less than two seconds outside the world record – 7:04.66 – set by Australia at this meet in 2001.
Canada, urged on by a ecstatic home crowd, picked up the silver medal in surprising fashion as the squad of Brent Hayden (1:47.10), Colin Russell (1:48.60), Rick Say (1:46.84) and Andrew Hurd (1:47.19) turned in an outstanding swim of 7:09.73. Australia was the bronze-medal winner, thanks to the exploits of Nicholas Sprenger, Patrick Murphy, Andrew Mewing and Grant Hackett. The Aussies were timed in at 7:10.59 on the back of a closing split by Hackett of 1:44.84 – the fifth fastest in history, only world record-holder Ian Thorpe has swum faster.
Italy was the fourth-place finisher in 7:12.81, a time not reflective of the talent on the relay unit. Meanwhile, Japan picked up fifth place in 7:13.60 and Russia was the sixth-place finisher with a swim of 7:17.09. Completing the top eight were Germany (7:17.52) and Greece (7:20.04).