'It was like a dream.'
TOKYO – Swimming the third leg on the 800-meter free relay for the United States, Cal alum Katie McLaughlin helped the squad to an Olympic silver medal as the foursome established an American record Wednesday night Pacific Time.
"It was like a dream," McLaughlin told NBC in her post-race interview. "Before we walked out, I had said to Katie (Ledecky), this is like a dream walking out on a finals relay for the U.S. I'm biased that the 800 free is the best one. I can't even explain."
Allison Schmitt led off for the United States, with Paige Madden putting the Americans in third place when she gave way to McLaughlin. McLaughlin covered her split in 1:55.38 and kept the U.S. in third before Ledecky nearly brought the team all the way back. The final time was 7:40.73, an American record.
China claimed gold in a world-record 7:40.33, with Australia third in 7:41.29. In fact, the top three teams all finished under the previous world record of 7:41.50 set by Australia at the 2019 World Championships.
McLaughlin swam for Cal from 2016-19 when she was a multi-time NCAA relay national champion and set school records in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly. Her medal is the second of the Tokyo Games for a Golden Bear women's swimmer, as Abbey Weitzeil picked up a bronze medal in the 400 free relay earlier in the meet.
Weitzeil will go for an individual medal on Thursday when she swims in the final of the 100 free. On Wednesday, she qualified with a lifetime-best 52.99 in the semifinals.