ATLANTA -- The United States set a short-course world record Friday night in the women's 400-meter medley relay, the very first event of Duel in the Pool against the European All-Stars.
Natalie Coughlin got the Americans off to a quick start in the backstroke, and Rebecca Soni really turned up the pace in the breaststroke leg. Dana Vollmer kept the U.S. ahead of world-record pace, and 16-year-old Missy Franklin finished strong in the freestyle for a time of 3 minutes, 45.56 seconds.
That crushed the previous record of 3:47.97, set by the Americans at the 2009 Duel in the Pool just before high-tech racing suits were banned by the international governing body.
"We have four really great girls in that relay," Coughlin said. "We were confident going in, and that definitely helped us get the world record."
The European squad -- Daryna Zevina of Ukraine, Rikke Moeller Pedersen of Denmark, Jeanette Ottesen of Denmark, and Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands -- was never a factor. The European team touched in 3:51.04.
Franklin, a rising star, said the Americans were eager to take down the record after barely missing it at the short-course world championships last year.
"It was amazing and so special," Franklin said. "It was great to come back and get it. It sets us up really well for next summer."
The Americans were favored to extend their domination at Duel in the Pool, which was launched in 2003 to boost interest in swimming during non-Olympic years. The U.S. easily beat the Australians at the first three Duels, then routed the Europeans two years ago.