By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 30. MAKING the biggest noise in the female portion of the World Championships, Australia blasted the field on Saturday night in the 400-meter medley relay, just missing the world record it set in Athens last year. Such is the strength of the Aussies, only one member of the Athens team, Leisel Jones, was on the team tonight. Popping a time of 3:57.47, a new championship record, the Aussies prevailed by two-plus seconds over the United States. Australia’s world record sits at 3:57.32.
Sophie Edington got the Australian squad off to a very solid start, covering the backstroke leg in a PR 1:01.48. By the time Jones got done with the breaststroke – at 1:05.73 it was the fastest split in history – the Aussies were in complete control and motored to the finish behind Jessicah Schipper on the fly leg (57.13) and Lisbeth Lenton on the freestyle anchor (53.13). Two members of the world record team, Jodie Henry and Giaan Rooney were sitting in the stands.
The Americans were timed in 3:59.92 behind the quartet of Natalie Coughlin (1:00.00), Jessica Hardy (1:07.70), Rachel Komisarz (57.80) and Amanda Weir (54.42). While Coughlin produced a time faster than the winning mark in the 100 back, Hardy struggled on her leg and was 1.50 off the world-record time she established in the semifinals of the 100 breast.
Germany picked up the bronze medal in 4:02.51, thanks to the efforts of Antje Buschschulte, Sarah Poewe, Annika Mehlhorn and Daniela Gotz. It was the fourth minor medal for Buschschulte at this meet. China finished in fourth (4:02.80) and Italy was fifth in 4:04.90. The final two spots were claimed by Poland (4:05.08) and Japan (4:06.85). Russia was disqualified.