In the first seeded heat, Takahiro Mori took the lead on breaststroke and held it to win in 4:17.12. Brian Johns, (CAN) took an early lead but dropped to fourth at the 300. He was unable to catch Mellouli Oussama (TUN) who beat Johns 4:18.21 to 4:18.33.
Laszlo Cseh (HUN) easily won heat 2 with a best of 4:14.11. He beat out the two Italians, Alessio Boggiatto 4:18.88 and Massi Rosolino 4:19.50. Cseh was ahead of heat three winner Michael Phelps (USA) who breezed through in 4:15.72 and Tom Wilkens (USA) was second in 4:17.21.
Beatrice Caslaru (ROM), at 28, is the oldest women in this event, but her time of 4:44.26 was first in the first seeded heat. In the second, Eva Risztov and Diana Remenyi, both of Hungary, battled with Nicole Hetzer (GER) with Risztov finishing first in 4:42.89, Hetzer in 4:43.48, and Remenyi in 4:44.77.
Yana Klochkova (UKR) toyed with the field, winning in 4:44.14 to Jennifer Reilly's (AUS) 4:45.57.
Russia got off to a fast start winning heat 1 in 3:38.14 followed by Canada in 3:39.41, while South Africa were DQed.
France, Australia, and Ukraine battled in heat 2-but with Ian Thorpe anchoring, the Aussies won with 3:37.29 to France's 3:37.57 and Ukraine's 3:38.50. But in a very late call, Australia was DQed for the back-breast exchange early start.
In the final heat, the equivalent of the American 'B' team broke the championship record. The team of Randall Bal, Ed Moses, Michael Phelps, and Neil Walker swam the 3rd fastest of all time with a 3:34.80. Japan was second with a 3:37.08.