Former Longhorns continue to shine at FINA World Championships
MONTREAL -- Sunday at the XI FINA World Championships, Team USA accomplished something that it has not pulled off at a World Championships since 1982: it swept the men's relays.
But not only did the team ofJason Lezak and former Texas stars Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen andIan Crocker win gold in the 400m medley with a time of 3:31.85, the race capped the best showing by an American team at a World Championships since 1978 - 32 medals overall, including 15 gold, 11 silver and six bronze.
"It was our best meet as far as medals are concerned," Peirsol said. "That says a lot for us, because we've had a lot of great teams in the past."
The Americans' performance earned them a trophy as the highest scoring team of the meet. The next closest nation was Australia with 22 medals overall - 13 gold, five silver and four bronze. The two teams will face off again on Tuesday at the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool, in Irvine, Calif.
Counting the relay, Team USA won five medals on Day 8 - two gold, two silver and a bronze. The relay win was the third gold medal this week for both Hansen and Peirsol, and the second for Crocker and Lezak.
"We came out here and did our best," Hansen said. "When you do multiple races like that, it takes a beating on you.
"I think our team has a lot of depth. This morning's swim (in the prelims) was fast enough to come close to medaling tonight. It just shows the depth of the USA. We came in here tonight and just wanted to be fast."
Katie Hoff was fast Sunday - fast enough to break the World Championships record in the women's 400m IM, turning in a time of 4:40.85. The race was a wide open contest between a handful of swimmers until Hoff took the lead on the first length of the breaststroke and then steadily hammered her way home.
"I wasn't even thinking about winning or breaking the record, because those things really get me nervous," said Hoff, who brings home three gold medals from Montreal. "For this event, I was just trying to remain confident, because I have been a little bit shaky. I was just aiming to get a best time, so I am really excited with that.
"This meet has been incredible for everyone, a world record here and there. We have exceeded our expectations."
Kaitlin Sandeno swam a brilliant final 50 meters in the IM to take the bronze in 4:40.85.
"I am happy for Katie," Sandeno said. "It's fantastic. After (the 800m free relay), we told each other to go for first and second. Katie got first, and I got third, but I will take it after the year I've had coming back from the Olympic Games.
"Obviously, I would have loved to have gone faster, but I'm happy. It was a long meet. I'm just excited that we swam well for the United States, to be on the podium. Katie had a fantastic meet, and she was really good out there."
Other Americans taking home hardware on the final night were Jessica Hardy in the 50m breaststroke and Larsen Jensen in the 1500m freestyle.
A National Team rookie, Hardy set the world record in the semifinals of the 100m breaststroke earlier this week before finishing with a silver in that event. She also won silver in last night's 400m medley relay.
She took her third silver Sunday with a time of 30.85 in the 50m breast, setting an American record. Teammate Tara Kirk was fourth in 31.38.
"I came here with an open mind, to get experience," Hardy said. "It was definitely a good experience, and I will use it as a stepping stone to build on."
In the men's 1500, Larsen Jensen displayed the trademark fortitude for which he has become known, out-sprinting Great Britain's David Davies in the final 50 meters to finish second in 14:47.58, just a little over two seconds shy of his American record. It was Jensen's second silver medal of the meet after finishing second in the 800m free on Day 4.
"I thought about our armed forces overseas and what they are doing for us and the sacrifices they are making, so I figured the least I could do was to finish my race as hard as I possibly can and have nothing left at the end," Jensen said. "That is what got me through the last 50 meters. Anybody is beatable any given day. Nothing is given, and that's why we race.
"My training this year was not focusing on the 1500, so the time I did was about right. Next year is another year, more opportunities next summer, and I am looking forward to that. There will be more training, and I am looking forward to getting back to school."
In the other events, Randall Bal finished fourth in the 50m back with a time of 25.43, followed by Peirsol in fifth in 25.30. In the men's 400m IM, Ryan Lochte was fifth in 4:13.67, missing his fourth medal of the week by just two-tenths. Robert Margalis was seventh in the IM in 4:17.93.
"It was a real close race," Lochte said. "I couldn't really see the lanes, and I couldn't feel the other competitors. If I would have been closer, in the middle lanes, I would have had a better shot."
Kara Lynn Joyce turned in the top American showing in the women's 50m free, finishing seventh with a time of 25.36.
Sunday night's finals was the conclusion of the XI FINA World Championships.