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Golden Goggles at a Glance: Relay Performance of the Year

10/23/2013

Each Wednesday until the 2013 Golden Goggle Awards in Los Angeles, USA Swimming will take a closer look at one of the eight awards that will be presented Sunday, Nov. 24. Online fan voting is open through Nov. 15, so be sure to cast your vote.

Today we look at the nominees for Relay Performance of the Year, an award given to the best team relay performance, male or female. The performance considered must be a finals performance, with special emphasis on the 2013 FINA World Championships. The nominees are:

Women’s 4x100m Free Relay
The women’s 4x100m free relay team of Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Shannon Vreeland and Megan Romano got the 2013 FINA World Championships off to a thrilling start with a come-from-behind win and an American record on the first night of pool competition. Franklin (53.51), Coughlin (52.98) and Vreeland (53.22) kept the Americans in second place and within striking distance of Australia over the first three legs. Anchoring her first major international relay, Romano hit the water seven-tenths of a second behind the Aussies and promptly made up a half second over the first 50 meters. Romano swam neck and neck with Australia’s Alicia Coutts over the final 50 meters before pulling in front inside the flags to split 52.60 and give the U.S. its first World Championships gold in the event since 2003. The time of 3:32.31 was an American record by almost two seconds.

Women’s 4x200m Free Relay
The women’s 4x200m free relay team of Katie Ledecky, Shannon Vreeland, Karlee Bispo and Missy Franklin won gold by nearly two seconds with a time of 7:45.14 at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Ledecky led things off with a 1:56.32 split to give the U.S. a slight lead at the 200m mark. Vreeland (1:56.97) and Bispo (1:57.58) followed with strong swims to keep Team USA in second before Franklin took to the water for the anchor. She used an event-best 1:54.27 split to overtake Australia’s Alicia Coutts and give the U.S. its fifth gold medal in the event in the last six FINA World Championships.

Men’s 4x200m Free Relay
The men’s 4x200m free relay lineup of Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte, Charlie Houchin and Ricky Berens convincingly struck gold at the 2013 FINA World Championships with a time of 7:01.72 – more than two seconds clear of runner-up Russia. After Dwyer (1:45.76) led things off for the Americans, Lochte split 1:44.98 to grab the lead at the 400-meter mark. Houchin (1:45.59) and Berens (1:45.39) continued with powerful swims and were not threatened down the stretch, as the U.S. men ran its unbeaten streak in this relay in major international competitions to 10 years.

Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay
The women’s 4x100m medley relay team of Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer and Megan Romano was dominant en route to gold in Barcelona and a nearly two-second victory over Australia on the final night of competition. Franklin opened with a 58.39 backstroke split to give the Americans a healthy lead on the field after just 100 meters. Hardy followed with a 1:05.10 breaststroke split, and Vollmer added the fastest butterfly leg of 56.31 to boost the U.S. cushion to an insurmountable three seconds heading to the anchor. Romano’s 53.43 freestyle split held off Australia’s Cate Campbell down the stretch to secure gold for the U.S. in 3:53.23.