By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 31. THE 11th edition of the World Championships ended in stylish fashion on Sunday night, as the United States shredded the competition in the men’s 400-meter medley relay. Clocking the third-fastest time in history, the U.S. touched the wall in 3:31.85, three-plus seconds ahead of the 3:35.08 effort of Russia.
Behind the familiar quartet of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Jason Lezak, the United States punctuated the competition with a dazzling performance. The foursome used by the Stars and Stripes was the same squad that won World Champs gold in 2003 and the Olympic title last summer. That group holds the world record at 3:30.68, produced in Athens.
Peirsol got the U.S. into the lead with a backstroke leg of 54.26, allowing Hansen to clock 59.33 for his breaststroke effort. By the time Crocker got done with a 50.39 performance in butterfly, the U.S. had an overwhelming advantage. Lezak, the only non-Texas member of the team, closed the relay with a freestyle split of 47.87.
In claiming silver, Russia benefited from the team of Arkady Vyatchanin, Dmitry Komornikov, Igor Marchenko and Andrey Kapralov. Japan, like it did at the Olympics, earned the bronze medal with a time of 3:35.40. Germany checked in with a fourth-place mark of 3:37.32 and France was fifth in 3:37.60. Australia took sixth (3:38.13) while Slovenia and New Zealand suffered disqualifications.