Allison Schmitt and Shannon Vreeland
LONDON --- Georgia swimmers Shannon Vreeland and Allison Schmitt earned gold medals on Wednesday as members of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay at the Olympics.
Vreeland swam the third leg and Schmitt served as the anchor as the United States recorded an Olympic-record time of 7:42.92. Australia was second in 7:44.41 and France placed third in 7:47.49. Vreeland is a rising junior from Overland Park, Kansas, while Schmitt is a rising senior from Canton, Mich.
"I'm just happy as heck for Shannon and Allison," said Georgia coach Jack Bauerle, who is in London. "Having two of the four ladies on the relay was a real point of pride for all of us. It was so much fun to watch the two of them swim the back half of the relay and get up on that medal stand. That was such a great relay. I could not be more proud of Shannon and Allison for what they did for Georgia and for the U.S."
Schmitt finished the London Games going 4-for-4 on medals in her events. She picked up the gold on Wednesday, another gold in the 200-meter freestyle, a silver in the 400-meter freestyle and a bronze on the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Schmitt now has five medals, including a bronze at the 2008 Games, and that is the highest total in Georgia history. Vreeland made her Olympics debut on Wednesday, swimming in both the prelims and the finals after being named as a relay alternate at the United States Olympic Trials in June.
"This was such an incredible opportunity," Vreeland said. "It was even more special getting to share it with three other girls. Having Allison as a teammate at UGA and on the Olympic team and having her anchor in such an incredible time was icing on the cake. This is something I will never forget."
"The best thing is to bring home the gold for the U.S.," Schmitt said. "It's my first Olympic gold medal in a relay. These three ladies had an amazing swim, I had confidence in them and I just wanted to bring it home for them. ... It was neck-and-neck the whole race. I just wanted to bring up the energy and bring home the gold tonight in the relay."
Schmitt and Vreeland join Shelia Taormina, Kim Black and Courtney Shealy as gold medalists with ties to the Georgia program. On Tuesday, Schmitt became the first Georgia swimmer to win an individual gold medal.
Also Wednesday, Canada's 4x200-meter freestyle relay came in fourth in 7:50.65, with incoming freshman Brittany MacLean swimming as the anchor. In the prelims of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, former Lady Bulldog Aleksandra Putra anchored the Poland team that came in 16th with a time of 8:13.76.