U.S. takes back women's 800M freestyle relay mark

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The United States took back the
world record in the women's 800-meter freestyle relay at the world
swimming championships Thursday night.

Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer, Lacey Nymeyer and Katie Hoff won
the gold medal in 7 minutes, 50.09 seconds, bettering the mark of
7:50.82 set by Germany at the European championships in August.

In another record performance, Leila Vaziri of the United States
equaled her own world mark in winning the 50-meter backstroke.

Coughlin got the Americans started under a world-record pace on
the first of her four laps. She was 2.71 seconds under the record
when she turned it over to Vollmer, who raced against German star
Britta Steffen.

Vollmer went even lower, going 3.49 seconds under before Nymeyer
dove in. She had the Americans 2.07 seconds under after 600 meters.

Teenager Katie Hoff swam the anchor leg against French star
Laure Manaudou, who moved her team from fourth to second on her
initial lap.

But Hoff was up to the task and opened a bigger lead while
churning away in lane eight as a tight race developed between
France, Germany, Britain and Australia.

Hoff came home 3.72 seconds ahead of German anchor Annika Lurz.

Germany took the silver in 7:53.82. France finished third.

The Americans barely scraped into the final, qualifying in last
place which relegated them to the far outside lane.

The United States has medaled in the relay every year at the
world championships, except 1991 when the team was disqualified.

Vaziri, a 21-year-old Indiana University student first set the mark of
28.16 seconds in the semifinals Wednesday. She had set a meet
record in the preliminaries.

Vaziri won the gold medal in her first world championships.

Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus took the silver in 28.46.
Tayliah Zimmerman of Australia earned the bronze.

It was the ninth swimming world record set during the meet.