By USA Swimming | Thursday, October 17, 2019
Relay Performance of the Year
This award is given to the best team relay performance, male or female. The performance considered must be a finals performance, with special emphasis on the 2019 FINA World Championships.
Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay, 2019 FINA World Championships
The performance of the women’s 4x100m medley relay at the 2019 FINA World Championships was one of the defining moments of the entire competition – two world records set in just one race. Regan Smith, just two days after setting the world record in the 200m backstroke, set a new world record in the leadoff leg of the relay, going 57.57 in the 100m back. This marked the first time in history that a female as swam the 100m back in under 58 seconds. Following the blazing start, each American swimmer continued with strong swims. Both Lilly King’s breaststroke split and Simone Manuel’s freestyle split were the fastest times of their respective relay legs, while Kelsi Dahlia’s butterfly split of 56.16 was only bested by 100m fly world champion, Maggie McNeil. The four American women touched the wall in 3:50.40, a full three seconds ahead of the competition. The scorching swim set a new world record, besting the previous mark of 3:51.55 set by Team USA (which was also comprised of King, Dahlia and Manuel) at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest.
Mixed 4x100 Freestyle Relay, 2019 FINA World Championships
Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple, Mallory Comerford and Simone Manuel set a world record of 3:19.40 in the mixed 4x100m free relay at the 2019 FINA World Championships. Dressel gave the team a slim lead after the first leg by three-hundredths of a second. From there, each swimmer did their part to hold on to that lead, with Manuel anchoring the team to gold. The four Americans bested the previous world record, which was also set by an American team made up of Dressel, Comerford and Manuel at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Not only was the swim a new world record, but it aslo gave Dressel his third gold on the day, marking just the second time in the event's history that a swimmer has captured three gold in a single day.
Men’s 4x100 Freestyle Relay, 2019 FINA World Championships
On the opening night of the 2019 FINA World Championships, the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Zach Apple and Nathan Adrian landed the first gold medal of the competition for Team USA. The American relay set a new championship record in 3:09.06, but it was Zach Apple who stole the show individually, going 46.86 to become the only swimmer in the field to record a sub-47 split. Adrian drove home Team USA with a 47.08 anchor split to hold off Russia and solidify a gold medal for the Americans. The medal was not only a first of the competition for Team USA, but it was an emotional first medal for Adrian, following his bout with testicular cancer. After the race, Pieroni said about Adrian, “I’ve looked up to this guy for so long... He’s battled cancer, he’s still anchoring our relays and he’s been there for us all the time. I just think it’s amazing what he’s done.”