China won a surprise victory in the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, setting a world record of 7 minutes 40.33 seconds and beating both the United States, which took silver, and the heavily favored Australians, who settled for bronze.
Katie Ledecky continued her Olympic odyssey by earning a second silver medal in Tokyo as part of the U.S. team, adding to her gold in the 1,500 freestyle.
Ledecky swam the final leg for an American team of Allison Schmitt, Paige Madden and Kathryn McLaughlin. She took to the water in third, but raced past Australia to finish 0.4 seconds behind China, claiming silver for the United States.
Australia was a big favorite behind Ariarne Titmus, and came looking to lower the world record of 7:41.50 that it established in 2019. She swam the opening leg, and handed her teammates a spot in second, behind China. Emma McKeon put the Aussies ahead of China midway through the race, but China soon took the spot back.
Titmus had won gold in the individual 200 and 400 freestyles, ahead of Ledecky both times.
Australia’s swimmers had already won the 4×100 free relay on Sunday, setting a world record.
Ledecky has spent a career raising gold-or-bust expectations, and is now swimming with the curse of having to explain that she does not win every race. In Tokyo, so far, she has a gold and two silver medals, plus a fifth-place finish.