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Phelps, USA take bronze in freestyle relay

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Shanghai, China

Australia captured the gold medal at the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay at the 2011 World Swimming Championships, leaving Michael Phelps and his United States teammates with a bronze medal on the first day of the competition.

Phelps swam the opening leg of the relay for the Americans and left his teammates in second place. The remainder of the squad — Garrett Weber-Gale, Jason Lezak and Nathan Adrian — managed to finish only third, well behind the Aussies and the favored French. Phelps, Weber-Gale and Lezak were part of the American team that won gold at this event in the 2008 Olympics.

Michael Phelps

POOL CUE

See all the best photos as Michael Phelps and Team USA make a splash at the World Championships.

Australia led from start to finish with James Magnussen beating Phelps to the wall on the first leg. Eamon Sullivan put the finishing touches on the victory, as the group completed the race in a time of three minutes and 11 seconds.

France, which had the top qualifying heat earlier in the day, could not overcome a slow start by Alain Bernard. He was fifth after the first leg and his teammates managed to pull ahead of the Americans to finish .14 seconds behind Australia. The Americans were .96 seconds back.

The U.S. women were just one spot better on Sunday, finishing second to the Netherlands in the 4x100-meter event. The Dutch squad rebounded from Inge Dekker's sluggish start of seventh and overtook the Americans, who had led through the first three legs.

Femke Heemskerk's blistering anchor leg of 52.46 seconds allowed the Dutch to finish with a time of 3:33.96, while the U.S. clocked in just over a half- second slower at 3:34.47.

The men's 400-meter freestyle went to South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan, who also captured gold at this event in the Beijing Games three years ago.

Italy's Federica Pellegrini won the women's 400-meter freestyle, topping 2008 Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain by just over two seconds. American Katie Hoff, who won silver three years ago, was a distant seventh on Sunday.

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