US women set record in medley relay

The United States set a world record to win the women’s medley relay at the London Olympics on Saturday.

The Americans clocked 3 minutes, 52.05 seconds, slicing 0.14 off the previous mark set by China at the 2009 world championships at the height of the high-tech bodysuit era.

Missy Franklin swam the leadoff backstroke leg, Rebecca Soni did the breaststroke, Dana Vollmer competed in butterfly and Allison Schmitt had the anchor leg in freestyle.

Australia touched in 3:54.02 to take the silver medal and Japan finished in 3:55.73 to take bronze.

The 17-year-old Franklin, who will begin her senior year of high school when she gets back to Colorado, seems destined to be America’s new star in the post-Phelps era after taking four golds and a bronze while swimming seven events — the same number as Phelps.

A definite bit of symmetry there, though Franklin doubts anyone can ever replace Phelps.

”I don’t think his shoes will ever be filled. They’re so huge,” Franklin said. ”Hopefully I can make little paths next to him.”

And let’s not forget Allison Schmitt, another swimmer with ties to Phelps. They trained together over the past year in Baltimore, becoming fast friends with all their goofy antics. But they sure took care of business in the pool, with Schmitt winning three golds, a silver and a bronze in London.

Franklin grabbed the lead right away in the backstroke, Soni stretched out the advantage in the breast, Vollmer cruised through the fly and Schmitt finished it off in the free, pulling away for a time of 3:52.05, beating the mark of 3:52.19 set by China at the 2009 world championships.

It was the second world record of the night and ninth of the Olympic meet, proving that fast times are still possible even without banned high-tech bodysuits.