Olympics, Swimming: Australia Paces Women’s 400 Medley Relay Prelims

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 15. MOST of the big guns will come out tomorrow, but that didn't stop Australia – the favorite in the event – from capturing the top seed for the final of the women's 400 medley relay. The Aussies turned to the quartet of Emily Seebohm, Tarnee White, Felicity Galvez and Shayne Reese for a time of 3:57.94.

Great Britain qualified in the second spot as Gemma Spofforth, Kate Haywood, Jemma Lowe and Francesca Halsall generated a European record of 3:59.14 to just clip the United States, which was timed in 3:59.15. Margaret Hoelzer gave the U.S. a backstroke leg of 59.29 before Megan Jendrick, Elaine Breeden and Kara Lynn Joyce closed out the relay.

China was fourth-fastest during the prelims with Xu Tianlongzi, Sun Ye, Zhou Yafei and Pang Jiaying combining for an effort of 3:59.21, an Asian record. Russia followed in 3:59.66 and Japan was the sixth-place finisher in 3:59.91. Rounding out the field for the final were Sweden (4:02.12) and Canada (4:02.13).

The Australians will likely go with a foursome of Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper and Libby Trickett while the British squad appears as if it will remain intact. The United States will probably turn to a lineup of Natalie Coughlin, Rebecca Soni, Christine Magnuson and Dara Torres.