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Kennedy brings home a pair of gold medals from world championships

Avon native Madison Kennedy, far right, won a pair of gold medals at the short course world championship meet that ended Sunday in China. (Photo courtesy USA Swimming via Twitter)

Avon native Madison Kennedy won a pair of gold medals swimming for the United States women’s swim team at the FINA short course world championships in Hangzhou, China, that concluded Sunday.

Kennedy, 30, swam on the winning 4×50 meter freestyle relay on Sunday that won with a U.S. and meet record time of 1:34.03. She was the leadoff swimmer for the Americans, who beat the Netherlands by 0.52 of a second. The Americans shattered the old U.S. record time of 1:34.61 set in 2014.

She also brought home a gold medal for her preliminary round swim on the American’s 4×50 mixed freestyle relay. She swam on the team that had the top time (1:29.80) after the qualification round. The American team of Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, Mallory Comerford and Kelsi Dahlia won the gold medal in the finals with a world record time of 1:27.89.

The two gold medals give Kennedy four relay gold medals in her career. At the 2016 short course world championships in Canada, Kennedy swam on the American team that won 4×100 freestyle relay. At the 2014 short course world championships in Dubai, she swam on the American team that set a world record in the 4×50 mixed relay.

Every other year, FINA – the organization that oversees competition in six aquatics sports including swimming – holds short course world championships in a 25-meter pool. Long course meets, such as the Olympics, are held in 50 meter pools.

In Sunday’s championship race, Kennedy swam a 24.05 on her leadoff leg in the 4×50 women’s relay, just off the pace set by Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who won the gold medal in the 50 freestyle. The Netherlands still had the lead after two legs despite a fast split of 23.28 by Comerford on the second leg.

But the U.S. rallied with Dahlia taking the lead with a leg of 23.37 and Brown closing out the win with a time of 23.33.

Ironically, the U.S. 4×50 freestyle team beat the American record set by the 2014 team that Kennedy swam on at the world championship meet in Dubai. Again, Kennedy swam the leadoff leg in that race and it was virtually the same time (24.06) she swam four years later in China. The 2014 American team finished with a time of 1:34.61 and finished second to the Netherlands.

Kennedy also swam in the 50 freestyle at the world championships. She had a time of 24.24 seconds in qualifying to earn a spot among the top 16 swimmers in the semifinals. She was seventh after the semifinals with a time of 24.00 to earn a spot in the championship final.

In the final, she finished eighth with a time of 24.11 seconds. Kromowidjojo set a meet record with a time of 23.19 seconds with Netherland’s teammate Femke Heemskerk taking second in 23.67 seconds. Comerford finished fourth for the United States with a time of 23.86 seconds.

Kennedy now owns six world championship medals. Along with her four gold medals in relays, she won a bronze medal in the 50 freestyle at the 2016 world championships. At the 2014 world championship meet, she earned a pair of silver medals swimming on two relay teams.

Kennedy, 30, lives in the Charlotte area with her husband, Eric, and trains on her own.

Kennedy graduated from Avon High in 2005 and the University of California-Berkeley in 2010. She swam at Avon High and set several team records that still stand today. She has lived and trained in Charlotte since 2011.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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