Katie Ledecky won her fourth Olympic medal of the Rio Games on Wednesday night, a gold medal alongside Allison Schmitt, Leah Smith and Maya DiRado in the 4x200m freestyle relay. Ledecky raced the anchor leg to stop the clock at seven minutes, 43.03 seconds.
Australia’s squad claimed second, nearly two seconds back in 7:44.87; followed by the quartet from Canada for the bronze with a time of 7:45.39.
The U.S. women have traditionally won gold in this event, which was introduced in 1996; they won captured the Olympic title in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2012 and came away with the bronze in 2008.
"Finishing up with a relay and with these thee amazing girls was a dream come true," Schmitt, who earned her third consecutive medal in the event, said through USA Swimming. "To be able to wear that American flag black cap again … I was emotional when I found out that I made the night relay. Now to have a gold medal around my neck with these three girls, it’s been, I can’t put it into words."
Ledecky and Smith will race in Thursday's preliminaries of the 800m freestyle, where Ledecky will look to defend her 2012 gold, her only medal of those Games. DiRado will also be back in the water Thursday, where she will join defending 2012 gold medalist Missy Franklin in the heats of the 200m backstroke.
"I was prepared for being ahead, being behind, and I knew Maya put me right in the right spot to get out there and I knew I had to just kind of pace myself and not jump on it too fast and too early and I knew I could get it done," Ledecky said told media. "I think the most fun part about it is that each day seems like it gets more fun. There’s something unique and special about each day for the team and it’s just crazy being a part of it. Tonight being on that relay with three of my best friends, I couldn’t have had more fun."
Franklin, Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge, who raced in the qualifying heats of the relay, are also eligible to collect gold medals.