In a meet featuring 16 world records through four days, the American contingent has finally gotten on the board, taking down a world record in the 4×50 mixed free relay in the final event Saturday night.
The team was made up of Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil, and went 1:28.57. The previous record was set by Russia last winter at 1:29.53.
The U.S. team actually had to come from behind to beat Russia for the gold in Doha. After three legs, the U.S. was running third, with Russia leading and Brazil in second place. But the team’s youngest swimmer, 17-year-old Weitzeil, came up with a huge split, going 23.25 (tied for the best split of any female in the field) to run down both Russian and Brazil for the win.
The U.S., Russia, Brazil and Italy all got under the old record.
Here’s a look at the American relay’s splits compared to the 2013 record-setting iteration of the Russian team:
|2014 U.S.||2013 Russia|
|Josh Schneider||20.94||21.13||Sergei Fesikov|
|Matt Grevers||20.75||20.72||Vlad Morozov|
|Madison Kennedy||23.63||23.7||Rosaliya Nasretdinova|
|Abbey Weitzeil||23.25||23.98||Veronika Popova|
It’s a unique group for the Americans, with top male sprinter Nathan Adrian and rising top female sprinter Simone Manuel not in Doha. Schneider came up big with that 20.94 leadoff split. That’s a couple hundredths faster than he went in the individual 50, and as we saw in the men’s 4×50 free relay, getting a 20-second leadoff man is difficult to do.
Grevers, the Olympic champion backstroker, kept the team in the hunt for the two female swimmers, a unique pairing. Kennedy is a veteran, a few weeks away from her 27th birthday. Weitzeil is a 17-year-old high school senior making her first World Championships appearance. One bond they do have in common: both are California Golden Bears, as Kennedy graduated in 2010 and Weitzeil just recently signed her National Letter of Intent to compete there next season.