China had a surprise victory in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay, a race that Australia was favored to win and that saw Katie Ledecky help the United States take silver.
Australia fell behind for the bronze.
It was the third time Ledecky and Australia’s Ariarne Titmus had met in the Tokyo Games and this time it was Ledecky who was dominant. Swimming in the anchor spot, she passed Australia to win second place for the U.S. but could not catch China's Li Bingjie.
“I think everyone counted us out,” Ledecky said after the race. “These girls just went lights out and got us in position where I felt I could take on those two ladies next to us. I wish I had another half-second in me. But I gave it my all.”
Australia led to start, with Titmus swimming first, followed by Australia’s other top freestyler, Emma McKeon, but the team couldn't keep up with China.
Swimming in the third spot for China was Zhang Yufei, who an hour earlier had set an Olympic record in the women’s 200m butterfly.
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The Chinese team won the gold medal with a time of 7:40.33. The U.S. came in at 7:40.73 and Australia at 7:41.29.
In earlier races, Ledecky won a gold medal in the 1500m freestyle. Titmus won gold in the individual 200m freestyle and edged out Ledecky for the gold in the 400m freestyle.