Behind a brilliant 52.60 anchor leg from Megan Romano, the United States women obliterated the American Record and captured gold in come-from-behind fashion on night one of the 2013 World Championships. The team of Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Shannon Vreeland, and Megan Romano bettered the former record set last year in London by the team of Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal, and Allison Schmitt. Here’s a comparison of the splits:
OLD American Record: 2012 Olympics: Franklin (53.52) — Hardy (53.53) — Neal (53.65) — Schmitt (53.54) — 3:34.24
NEW American Record: 2013 Worlds: Franklin (53.51) — Coughlin (52.98) — Vreeland (53.22) — Romano (52.60) — 3:32.31
Australian Team: 2013 Worlds: Cate Campbell (52.33) — Bronte Campbell (53.47) — McKeon (53.19) — Coutts (53.44) — 3:32.43
The final women’s event of the night brought us an exceptional two-team race in the 4×100 freestyle relay between Team USA and the Australian quartet of Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon, and Alicia Coutts.
Cate Campbell made Franklin look pedestrian on the opening leg, establishing herself as the best sprinter in the world with a 52.33 leadoff, easily the best textile swim of all time. Franklin wasn’t exactly slow; her 53.51 is her second best time ever. Campbell was just that good.
There were a lot of questions about choosing Natalie Coughlin (54.09 on the second leg in prelims) over Simone Manuel (54.23 flat start), but the veteran Cal Bear stepped up again, splitting 52.98 in the second slot to keep the U.S. women within striking distance of the Aussies after Cate Campbell’s lightening fast 52.33 leadoff. Bronte Campbell was 53.47 for Australia.
Shannon Vreeland (53.22) of the University of Georgia held steady with Emma McKeon (53.19) over the third leg, keeping the Americans close enough for Romano (52.60) to catch Alicia Coutts (53.44), who was swimming her fifth race of the day. Between her consistently great swims at NCAA Championships over the last few years, World University Games a couple weeks ago, and her anchor leg tonight, Romano has proved to be one of the best relay swimmers we have ever seen.
Three more things of note:
- The Australian women easily broke their own National Record of 3:33.01 from the Rome World Champions in 2009. The swim was also the Commonwealth Record.
- The Americans and Australians were good enough to each easily win this race at the 2012 Olympics (won by Australia in 3:33.15)
- The Americans and Australians were the top textile swims of all time, with only the Dutch and German teams from 2009 being faster