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Paige Madden wins silver in dramatic 4x200m freestyle relay

All four Cavalier swimmers are heading back to Charlottesville with an Olympic medal.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 6 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Four Virginia swimmers made the trip to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Four Virginia swimmers are going home with medals. Paige Madden, alongside Allison Schmitt, Katie McLaughlin, and Katie Ledecky, grabbed a silver medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

Late on Wednesday evening, Madden jumped into the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. Schmitt led off the event, touching the wall behind China and heavy favorite Australia.

Madden, who qualified for this relay by finishing third in the 200m freestyle race at the Olympic trials back in June, had the best split in the semifinals with a time of 1:55.96. She improved upon it in the finals, swimming a blistering 1:55.20 in the second leg. Madden had the second-fastest split for the US in the finals, behind only Katie Ledecky’s electric anchor leg (1:53.7). NBC commentator and former gold medalist Rowdy Gaines called Madden’s swim “spectacular.”

Everyone expected Australia to run — or rather, swim — away with the finals with Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon leading off, but China, Canada, and the US never let them separate. China and Australia were battling for the top spot heading into the anchor leg, but then Ledecky turned it on.

Ledecky was able to get the USA into second, and nearly took the top spot. Australia came in third, one of the more shocking events to take place in the pool this week.

The team finished in a time of 7:40.73, just 0.4 seconds behind China. Australia touched the wall at 7:41.23. All three teams beat the previous World Record time.

After the race, the quartet chatted about the experience:

It has been an impressive week — and year — for Virginia Swimming. Incoming first year Emma Weyant opened Virginia’s events with a silver in the 400-meter IM. Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass got the silver and bronze, respectively, in the 200-meter IM. Catie DeLoof, who trains with the UVA team, won the bronze with the 4x100-meter relay.

Virginia won the program’s (and conference’s) first NCAA title earlier this year, led by outstanding performances by Walsh, Douglass, and Madden. Each won at least one individual NCAA title, and Weyant will join Walsh and Douglass back in Charlottesville this fall as the Hoos look to repeat.