Katie Ledecky Anchors Team USA To Gold; USA Continues 800 Free Relay Dominance

Photo Courtesy: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

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Women’s 800 Free Relay FINAL:

The final of the women’s 800 freestyle relay was highlighted by dynamic racing as the relay teams of China, Australia, and the USA exchanged the lead throughout the race.

Allison Schmitt of the USA got the Americans off to an early lead with a 1:56.21 lead split, but the Australian combination of Emma McKeon (1:54.64) and Bronte Barratt (1:55.81) pulled the Australians ahead with just one leg left in the race.

Tamsin Cook of Australia dove in knowing that she would have to hold lead that Barratt had built for her if she was going to fend off the likes of the USA’s Katie Ledecky, but Ledecky dove in with a purpose, splitting 1:53.74 to win the gold for Team USA. Ledecky’s split makes her the second woman to post a sub-1:54 relay split, with the other swimmer being Italy’s Federica Pellegrini during the tech-suit era.

Schmitt (1:56.21), Leah Smith (1:56.69), Maya DiRado (1:56.39), and Ledecky (1:53.74) posted a combined 7:43.03 to flirt with Team USA’s 2012 Olympic Record of 7:42.92. This marks the second consecutive Olympiad that the USA has taken home gold in this event and continues to mark the USA as dominant in this event, having won gold four of the five Olympic Games that the race has been part of the schedule.

Australia battled a strong anchor swim from Canada’s Penny Oleksiak for the silver medal. Neale (1:57.95), McKeon (1:54.64), Barratt (1:55.81), and Cook (1:56.47) turned in a final 7:44.87, while the Canadian combination of Katerine Savard (1:57.91), Taylor Ruck (1:56.18), Brittany MacLean (1:56.36), and Oleksiak (1:54.94) picked up the bronze with a 7:45.39.

The medal was Canada’s fourth of the week (all in women’s events) and second on a relay, an impressive feat for a country that had not been on the podium in any women’s event in 20 years. It was Oleksiak’s third time on the podium this week after helping Canada’s 400 free relay team win bronze and then winning an individual silver in the 100 fly. She and Ruck were the first two Olympic medalists in history to be born in the 2000s.

The Chinese combination of Shen Duo (1:56.30), Ai Yanhan (1:57.79), Dong Jie (1:57.15), and Zhang Yuhan (1:56.72) slipped to fourth and a final time of 7:47.96. Duo scratched the 100 free semifinals after qualifying 15th in hopes of going for a medal in this relay, but the move did not pay off.

Despite Sarah Sjostrom splitting a 1:54.88 on the third leg, Sweden faded to fifth on the anchor with a final time of 7:50.26, ahead of Hungary’s sixth place finish of 7:51.03. Katinka Hosszu put up a solid 1:55.74 anchor split, but she came up empty for the first time all week after previously winning golds in the 400 IM, 100 back and 200 IM. She swim the 200 back prelims Thursday morning.

Russia (7:53.26) and Japan (7:56.76) took seventh and eighth respectively.

Full results are available here.

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. avatar
    YY

    Sarah Sjostrom had also sub 1:54 splits at European Championships in Berlin in 2014

Author: Taylor Brien

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Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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