Olympics, Swimming: Flash Australia Smashes Women’s 800 Free Relay World Record

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 14. THAT the world record was crushed in the women's 800 freestyle relay wasn't much of a surprise. The team that took the gold and did the most smashing? Well, that's a different story. While four teams went under the former world record in the event, it was Australia which blasted the field.

Benefiting from an opening split of 1:56.60 by double-medley winner Stephanie Rice, Australia registered a time of 7:44.31 to wipe out the 7:50.09 global standard posted by the United States at last year's World Championships in Melbourne. Rice was followed by Bronte Barratt (1:56.58), Kylie Palmer (1:55.22) and Linda Mackenzie (1:55.91).

China, on the way to an Asian record, was second in 7:45.93. The home nation relied on the efforts of Yang Yu (1:56.79), Zhu Qianwei (1:56.64), Tan Miao (1:58.11) and Pang Jiaying (1:54.39) to better the United States, which took the bronze in 7:46.33. The U.S. was led by the foursome of Allison Schmitt (1:57.71), Natalie Coughlin (1:57.19), Caroline Burckle (1:56.70) and Katie Hoff (1:54.73).

Posting a European record of 7:49.76, Italy was fourth in 7:49.76. The Italians went with the quartet of Renata Fabiola Spagnolo (1:58.31), Alessia Filippi (1:56.68), Flavia Zoccari (1:59.80) and Federica Pellegrini (1:54.97). France followed in fifth in 7:50.66 and sixth went to Hungary in 7:55.53. Japan placed seventh in 7:57.56 and Sweden was eighth in 7:59.83.