Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 13, 2008
Date Finished: August 14, 2008
Traditionally this event has been the domain of American victories. Since its' introduction at the 1996 Olympic Games the USA had won all three editions and never by less than a clear second. Here the US were still favourites but the relative underperformance of some of their star names had given hope to the rest of the world. The heats saw a few surprises with world championship silver medalists Germany and potential medal winners Great Britain, who elected to rest some of their best swimmers, eliminated.
Although France led after the first leg of the final, it was the performance of double medley champion Steph Rice who was chasing her 3rd gold of the Games that proved decisive, and without a weak link in the chain the Australians pulled away from the field to victory. The winning team shattered the world record by nearly six seconds with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams also ducking well below the record as well. After a disappointing Olympic campaign Katie Hoff finally found her best form with a blistering anchor leg but it still left the USA tantalizingly short of the Chinese team who won a surprising silver medal.