RIO DE JANEIRO — The 1500-meter freestyle is still the bane of U.S. Swimming.
The Americans’ 32-year gold-medal drought in the event continued at the Rio Games as favorite Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy reached the wall in a time of 14:34.57 to take the top spot on the podium. USA’s Connor Jaeger had to settle on silver, but he did end up breaking the American record with a time of 14:39.48. Jordan Wilimovsky of the U.S. finished fourth.
Despite a long history of success in the pool at the Olympics – as of 9:30 p.m. PST, the U.S. had 31 swimming medals at the Rio Games alone – the near-mile-long endurance event has been a bit of a bust for USA Swimming over the years.
The last time an American won gold in the 1500 freestyle was Mike O’Brien in 1984. Jaeger joins a very small list of Americans that have medaled in the event; U.S. swimmers have now taken home just two silvers and one bronze medal in the event in the last 32 years.
The 25-year-old Jaeger got a measure of redemption in the event after finishing sixth in London in 2012.