(L-R) Gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Blake Pieroni, Caeleb Dressel and Zach Apple pose during the men's 4x100-meter freestyle final medal ceremony at the 2019 FINA World Championships on July 21, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
If there were any lingering questions about Nathan Adrian’s health and fitness following treatment for testicular cancer earlier this year, the 30-year-old took 47.08 seconds to answer them in the pool in Gwangju, South Korea, Sunday night.
That was Adrian’s split time swimming the anchor leg of the men’s 4x100-meter freestyle in the final at the FINA World Championships. Adrian, a five-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the Team USA captains at worlds, brought home the gold by building on the lead constructed by Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni and Zach Apple.
The U.S. team won in 3:09.06, setting a new championship record in the process. It’s Team USA’s second straight world title in the men’s 4x100 free and came about a second in front of silver medalist Russia (3:09.97). Australia took bronze in 3:11.22.
“I’m very grateful to be here racing,” Adrian commented to The Olympic Channel after securing the gold medal. “It beats the heck out of being home, waiting for test results, waiting for another surgery.”
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If the U.S. men’s result could have been anticipated, Katie Ledecky’s silver-medal finish in the women’s 400-meter freestyle was the surprise of the day. The five-time Olympic gold medalist was chased down by 18-year-old Ariarne Titmus from Australia, who powered down the final 50 meters to make up the 0.62 seconds she trailed Ledecky by heading into the home stretch.
Ledecky’s time of 3:59.97 was good enough for silver, though not enough to catch the surging Titmus, known as the “Terminator,” who touched the wall in 3:58.76. It’s only the second time Ledecky has not taken gold in a world final, the last coming in a duel with Italy’s Federica Pellegrini in the women’s 200 free at the 2017 worlds. U.S. team captain Leah Hall grabbed bronze in 4:01:29.
Anchored by Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel and bolstered by strong performances from Mallory Comerford, Abbey Weitzeil and Kelsi Dahlia, Team USA picked up another silver in the women’s 4x100 meter freestyle, finishing behind world record holder Australia, which cruised to gold in a championship-record 3:30.21. The U.S. time of 3:31.02 set a new American record, while Canada’s 3:31.78 gave them the bronze.
Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.