Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 15, 2004
Date Finished: August 15, 2004
Before the Sydney Olympics it seemed to many as if there was an extra rule written into the laws of Olympic swimming which read “American turns up at the Olympics, America wins the men’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay “. Australia’s victory on home soil in 2000 had broken US invincibility in the event and they added the world title in 2001 with Russia following as World Champions 2 years later. In that 2003 World Championships final South Africa had trailed in last but a year later they were the fastest qualifiers from the heat. Even with that qualifying performance the talk was still of the more favoured nations of the USA, Australia, the Netherlands and Russia, with each country having at least one bona fide superstar in their ranks. The South Africans sent out [Roland Schoeman], their fastest swimmer, on the opening leg and he opened up a lead that never looked like being closed down. [Ryk Neethling] anchored the team to a new world record as they finished over a second ahead of a fast finishing Netherlands team with the USA having to settle for third place.