Add Paige Madden to the list of University of Virginia swimmers to take home a medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Madden competed Thursday morning in Tokyo as part of the United States’ 4X200-meter freestyle relay team. The group, which also included Katie Ledecky, Allison Schmitt and Katie McLaughlin, finished second to only China. Madden and company won the silver medal with a time of 7:40.73.
“I was really nervous, but I just wanted to give it my all for Team USA and lay it all out on the line,” Madden said on the live TV broadcast after the race. “I gave it everything I had.”
China finished in 7:40.33. Australia finished third, and each of the top-three finishing teams posted times that beat the previous world record in the event.
The silver medal is the first of Madden’s Olympic career. The standout swimmer, who wrapped up her fourth year at UVa this past season, finished seventh as an individual in the 200-meter freestyle final earlier in the Olympic Games.
Australia was the favorite entering the relay event and it started strong, using its top two swimmers first. China, however, stayed closer than expected and quickly went from an underdog to the likely winner. The U.S. stayed close behind strong swims from each of its four athletes.
It was Ledecky in the final leg of the race who really gave the U.S. a shot at gold.
“When I saw that we were in it, that we were close, I knew Katie was gonna close in,” Madden said on NBC’s “Today Show” after the event. “She’s a great anchor, great swimmer, great teammate, so I knew she had all of our backs.”
Ledecky pulled the team ahead of Australia and close to China. She wasn’t able to overtake China, but she put a scare into the gold-medal winners with a split of 1:53.7.
“I wish I had another half second in me, but I gave it my all,” Ledecky said.
Madden handled the second leg of the race, posting the second-best time of the four U.S. swimmers. She finished her leg in 1:55.25. Ledecky’s mark led the team.
The group came close to earning a surprise gold.
“It was awesome,” McLaughlin said of the experience after the race. “It was like a dream.”
Madden’s accomplishment comes a day after UVa swimmers Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass won medals in the 200-meter individual medley. Walsh won the silver, while Douglass touched the wall just after her to win the bronze medal.
Late last week, incoming freshman Emma Weyant earned a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley. UVa will have three Olympic medalists on its roster next season, as Weyant will join Douglass and Walsh in Charlottesville. Madden told VirginiaSports.com back in March that she doesn’t plan on using an extra year of eligibility.
A special few days for UVa swimming continued Thursday morning with Madden’s performance. The Olympic accomplishments build off a historic collegiate season for the Wahoos, who won their first NCAA championship earlier this year.