Mixed-up mayhem proving popular
BUDAPEST — Matt Grevers wasn’t sure what was going on. He wasn’t alone.
One of swimming’s newest — and certainly craziest — events was showcased on Wednesday at the World Aquatics Championships, where the United States set a pair of world records while winning the 4x100m mixed medley relay.
Grevers led things off by swimming the backstroke, giving the Americans a slight lead, but breaststroker Lilly King — competing against seven men, including Britain’s world-record holder Adam Peaty — was only in fifth place when she passed off to teammate Caeleb Dressel.
“When Caeleb was in the water, I had no idea who was winning the race,” Grevers said.
“I didn’t know if we were ahead or behind. I didn’t know how it was going to balance out, how much of a lead Simone (Manuel, swimming the freestyle anchor) was going to need. It was just chaos.”
It worked out just fine for the Americans.
Dressel, swimming against only one other man, pushed the US to a commanding lead. Manuel cruised to victory, touching in a time of 3min, 38.56sec.
That easily eclipsed the mark of 3:40.28 put up by an entirely different US foursome — Ryan Murphy, Kevin Cordes, Kelsi Worrell and Mallory Comerford — in the morning prelims.
“It’s really cool that we had two relays that would’ve won tonight,” Grevers said.
Australia took the silver, while Canada and China tied for the bronze.
Governing body FINA added two mixed relays to its program at the 2015 world championships in Kazan, Russia, also debuting the 4x100 mixed-freestyle relay.
While scorned by traditionalists, the athletes seem to enjoy the uniqueness of men and women competing in the same events.
The International Olympic Committee clearly saw the appeal, approving the 4x100 mixed-medley relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games.