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Team USA Sets Men’s Freestyle Relay World Record, Wins 5 Medals On Day 1 Of Short Course Swimming Worlds

By Karen Price | Dec. 11, 2018, 10:26 a.m. (ET)

The men's relay team pose with their gold medals at FINA World Swimming Championships on Dec. 11, 2018 in Hangzhou, China.


The United States opened the 2018 FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday with five medals, including two golds.

The wins came in the women’s 4x100-meter freestyle and later in the men’s, where Team USA set a new world record. 

The women’s team — Olympic gold medalist Olivia Smoliga, Olympic medalist Lia Neal, Mallory Comerford and Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Dahlia — delivered the first gold of the meet with a winning time of 3:27.78, ahead of Netherlands in 3:28.02 and China with the bronze in 3:30.92. 

The men’s 4x100 freestyle closed out the day and the U.S. men captured gold in that event as well with a solid performance from all four swimmers. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel (who set a new American record on the first leg), gold medalist Blake Pieroni, Michael Chadwick and gold medalist Ryan Held had a time of 3:03.03, beating the old world record also held by the U.S. of 3:03.30 set in December 2009 as well as the championship record of 3:03.78 set by France in 2014. 

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Russia was just .08 behind, winning silver in 3:03.11, and Brazil won bronze in 3:05.15.

Comerford won the first medal of the meet for the U.S., capturing silver in the women’s 200 freestyle final and knocking down an American record in the process. Missy Franklin held the old record of 1:52.74, set in 2015, and Comerford broke that for the first time in the prelims then did it again in the finals with a time of 1:51.81. Australia’s Ariarne Titmus won gold in 1:51.38.

Olympic gold medalist Melanie Margalis claimed a second silver medal for the U.S. in the women’s 400 IM finals. World record holder and three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszou, of Hungary, took the gold in 4:21.40, but Margalis turned in a strong showing with her time of 4:24.84, a new personal best. 

Olympic medalist Josh Prenot took silver in the men’s 200 IM final with a time of 1:52.69, just a fraction of a second faster than Japan’s Hiromasa Fujimori who won bronze in 1:52.73. Shun Wang, of China, won gold in 1:51.01.

The U.S. roster includes 18 Olympians and 13 Olympic champions. The meet runs through Sunday and more than 960 athletes from 178 countries are expected to compete. 

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.