The United States celebrate victory in the women's 4x100-meter medley at the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 30, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.
BBUDAPEST, Hungary -- On paper, Team USA’s swimmers looked unbeatable in the men’s and women’s 4x100-meter medley.
In the pool, they were.
The Team USA women set a world record of 3 minutes 51.55 seconds Sunday night, eclipsing the previous record of 3:52.05 set by Team USA at the Olympic Games London 2012.
“We wanted to finish with a bang,” said butterflier Kelsi Worrell, “and no better way to do that than with the gold and the world record.”
It was the first relay world record for Team USA at the meet in a non-mixed relay.
The Team USA men just missed breaking the world record, turning in a time of 3:27.91, just shy of the 2009 world record of 3:27.28 held by a team that included Michael Phelps.
The two relay golds gave Team USA a total of 38 medals the most at any World Championships, although the addition of the mixed relays and 50-meter swims give current teams an advantage. Team USA had 18 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze. No other team had more than 10 total medals or more than four golds.
Caeleb Dressel equaled Michael Phelps with seven gold medals at one world championships, although he noted that two were in mixed relays that were not swum when Phelps won his seven golds in 2007. Still, he proved he was a triple threat in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve had within seven or eight days,” Dressel said. “The atmosphere here is an absolute blast, getting to do what I love to do.”
And he and his teammates couldn’t have had more fun than they did on the relays.
How about this line-up for the women? Kathleen Baker, silver medalist in the 100 backstroke; Lilly King, gold medalist and world record holder in the 100 breaststroke; Worrell, bronze medalist in the 100 butterfly, and Simone Manuel, gold medalist in the 100 freestyle.
“I know all of us put our hearts out on the line on that,” Baker said. “The energy in the ready room before was amazing.”
Then the American men took the pool, with this impressive roster: Matt Grevers, silver medalist in the 100 backstroke, Kevin Cordes, silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke, Caeleb Dressel, gold medalist in the 100 butterfly and Nathan Adrian, silver medalist in the 100 freestyle (Dressel won the gold, but he was otherwise engaged).
In the women’s relay, Team USA won the last two Olympic gold medals in the event, but didn’t make the podium in 2015, placing fourth behind China, Sweden and Australia.
The United States won its sixth gold medal in the women’s relay and has now won three of the last four.
Baker opened up in third place with a time of 58.54, then King surged to the front with a 1:04.48 split, but rival Yuliya Efivmova caught her to lead by .03. Worrell moved back into the lead with a 56.30 leg, giving Manuel a .66 advantage as she dove in. Manuel turned in the fastest freestyle split of 52.23.
King was a part of four world records at the meet: 50 breast, 100 breast, medley relay and mixed medley relay.
On the men’s side, Team USA has won the event in all 14 Olympic Games in which it has competed. The American men defended their 2015 world title and have now won 13 of the 17 possible golds.
Grevers got the ball rolling with a time of 52.26, his fastest time of the meet – which would have won the gold in the 100 back. The split for Cordes was 58.89, then Dressel had a blistering time of 49.76, more than a second faster than any other butterflier in the race. But Team USA lost a bit on the freestyle leg, as Adrian’s 47 flat was only the third fastest in the race.
Great Britain came in second in 3:28.95 followed by Russia in 3:29.76.
“It’s pretty awesome seeing stars arise,” Grevers said, “seeing Dressel come into his own. We joked about getting carried by Dressel. It’s amazing being on a relay with him, watching him develop into the star he is.”