World Championships, Day 8 Finals: Shayna Jack Anchors Australia Ahead of Sweden to Win Women’s Medley Relay

shayna jack,brianna throssell
Australia's Brianna Throssell & Shayna Jack -- Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

World Championships, Day 8 Finals: Shayna Jack Anchors Australia Ahead of Sweden to Win Women’s Medley Relay

Canada established a lead over the first half of the 400 medley relay, with Ingrid Wilm opening up a lead on backstroke and then Sophie Angus providing the third-quickest breaststroke split in the field to maintain the advantage. On butterfly, the race shifted as Sarah Sjostrom made a rare appearance in a 100-meter event and blasted away from Canada to give Sweden the lead. In her legendary career, Sjostrom has only once been part of a Swedish relay medal at a major international competition, in 2015, and nine years later, she gave Michelle Coleman the lead heading into the anchor leg.

But Australia had quietly put in a solid butterfly leg as well, with Brianna Throssell clocking 56.86, and the team in yellow caps was only one second behind. Anchor duties belonged to Shayna Jack, who has established herself of the best relay swimmers in the world right now after splitting as quick as 51.53 last year. Jack is the only member of Australia’s dynamite 100 freestyle group who made the trip to Doha, and she had already claimed 100 free silver plus four relay medals this week. Here, she split 52.71 to pass Coleman in the closing meters and secure gold.

The Australians, with World Championships rookie Iona Anderson and Abbey Harkin leading into veterans Throssell and Jack, finished in 3:55.98 for their third overall gold medal this week and first relay win. It has been a relatively quiet week for Australia, at least compared to a sensational performance with a full-strength team at last year’s Worlds, but it ended in style after plenty swims throughout that look promising for a full-strength team at the Paris Olympics.

Sweden took second in 3:56.35, with sisters Louise Hansson and Sophie Hansson providing the opening legs before Sjostrom and Coleman. The medal gives Sjostrom an astounding 25 overall podium finishes at the World Championships in a career that stretches back to the 2009 meet in Rome, when she was victorious in the 100 fly. Sjostrom rarely swims her one-time signature event anymore, but her 56.11 split was by far the quickest in the field, and she accomplished it in the same session as winning gold in the 50 free and coming close to her own world record.

Canada took bronze in 3:56.43, just eight hundredths back of Sweden. After Wilm and Angus, Rebecca Smith struggled on the butterfly leg, but Taylor Ruck came home in 52.96.

The only other team to break 4:00 was China, with 100 breaststroke gold medalist Tang Qianting splitting 1:05.15 to move her team up from eighth to fourth. China finished in 3:59.16. The Netherlands, with 200 breast winner Tes Schouten handling her signature stroke in 1:07.53, took fifth in 4:00.24.

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