Ye Shiwen wins gold in record time

Updated: July 28, 2012, 8:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LONDON -- China's Ye Shiwen set the first world record at the Olympic pool, winning the women's 400-meter individual medley with a dominant finishing kick Saturday night.

The 16-year-old Ye trailed American teenager Elizabeth Beisel more than halfway through the grueling race but pulled away in the freestyle leg to win gold in 4 minutes, 28.43 seconds. She beat the 4:29.45 by Stephanie Rice at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Beisel settled for silver in 4:31.27, while China's Li Xuanxu took the bronze in 4:32.91.

Ye was the second Chinese swimmer to win gold on the opening night of swimming competition at the London Olympics. Sun Yang won the men's 400 freestyle.

Meanwhile, Australia won gold in the women's 400-meter freestyle relay, setting an Olympic record of 3 minutes, 33.15 seconds Saturday night.

The United States team got off to a blistering start with Missy Franklin swimming leadoff under world-record pace, but the Australians rallied behind Brittany Elmslie on the third leg. Melanie Schlanger held on at the end, with Ranomi Kromowidjojo closing fast to give the Netherlands a silver in 3:33.79.

The other members of the winning team were Alicia Coutts and Cate Campbell.

The Americans slipped to the bronze in 3:34.24, but that was still good enough to give Natalie Coughlin the 12th medal of her career, tying Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female Olympian. Coughlin swam in the morning prelims, but wasn't used in the evening; everyone who swims on a relay gets a medal.

"I really have no idea what to think of it so far," Coughlin said. "I'll have to let that one sit and I'll have to take it all in. I'm very proud of it, but I've never been on a morning relay before."

Elsewhere, Dana Vollmer of the United States qualified fastest for the 100 butterfly final. Her semifinal time of 56.36 was off the Olympic-record time of 56.25 she set in the morning prelims. Alicia Coutts of Australia was second at 56.85. Also moving on to Sunday's final was world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, Claire Donahue of the United States and Ellen Gandy of Britain.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.