In advance of the final of the women’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay Katie Ledecky was added to the United States team and entrusted with the task of swimming the anchor lap. But Australia entered the event favored to win gold, and the Aussies accomplished that with a world record time of 3:30.65.
The United States won silver, establishing a new American record with a time of 3:31.89, but they did not have enough to hold off Australia after leading each of the first two legs of the race. Abby Weitzel swam 52.56 in the second leg, and as a result the United States held the lead at the halfway point of the race. But that slim advantage wasn’t enough of a cushion against Australia.
Sisters Bronte and Cate Campbell swam the final two legs for Australia, and it was during their combined 200 meters in the pool when the Aussies overtook the United States for the lead and went on to win gold. Australia also won gold in this event four years ago, and with Mack Horton winning gold in the men’s 400 meter freestyle Australian swimming is already more productive in Rio than they were in London.
Finishing third was Canada with a time of 3:32.89, earning their first medal of these Olympics and the nation’s 44th swimming medal in its Olympic history.