Swimming-U.S. leave rivals in the shade in men's 4x100m freestyle relay


TOKYO, July 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. men's swimming team produced a thrilling display to win the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday to underline their dominance in the event.

Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple came in with a time of 3:08.97 to finish 1.14 seconds ahead of second placed Italy. Australia's hopes of challenging for the top prize never really materialised as they trailed in 1.25 seconds adrift of the champions to claim bronze. Russia faded away early to finish seventh.

Since the 4x100m freestyle relay was introduced at the 1964 Tokyo Games, the U.S. have won a medal in the event at every Games, including 10 golds.

The Australians had been expected to put in a strong showing but the Americans led from the start with a fast-paced opening leg from Dressel and did not look back as Apple showed he is now a core member of the team with a brilliant swim in the last leg.

"We know there's a target on our backs. It is tough, but if you make it you deserve to be up here," Dressel, who was also part of the line-up that won the event in Rio, said.

The gold in the relay for the Americans followed Chase Kalisz's victory in the men's 400m individual medley on Sunday.

The swimming team's poker games in the athlete's village were raised at a press conference for the second day in row.

"It's just a nice thing that doesn't take any energy, we can sit around and talk, play cards," Pieroni said while clarifying that when money was involved it was "small stakes."

"It's just a relaxing thing to do."

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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