The United States swimming foursome of Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Zach Apple and Nathan Adrian thought they had broken a record Saturday at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo. They had swam the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay in 3:11.67, the fastest-ever time at the quadrennial meet.
They thought they had claimed golds, and celebrated accordingly. They stood atop the podium. They savored the medal ceremony.
By the end of the night, however, they were without medals altogether.
The Americans were disqualified for swimming out of order, a mistake that appears to have been the result of a coaching error.
SwimSwam reported that coaches told the swimmers the wrong order. Apple and Pieroni, who swam the middle two legs, should have been flip-flopped.
Such a mistake is not unprecedented in elite international swimming. But it’s nonetheless embarrassing and costly. The U.S. team had to forfeit its medals, and the meet record – previously (and now still) held by the 2010 American team.
Because of the U.S. DQ, Brazil claimed gold. Australia was bumped up from bronze to silver. Japan, the hosts of the championships, went from off the podium to on the podium thanks to the Americans’ gaffe.
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