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Australia’s swimmers have produced one of their finest ever nights in the Commonwealth Games pool winning six gold medals on their way to a total haul of 14 for the night as the Dolphins reigned supreme on a rain swept evening at the Optus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast.
It may have been a wet night but the Gold Coast’s inclement weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of a swim team on a golden roll and on the verge of an exciting new era in the sport.
They also established four new Commonwealth Games records and after two nights Australia has won eight gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals for a total of 23 medals.
The 10,000 strong crowd not only braved the rain but cheered on an energised team that turned back the clock 20 years.
And it was Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton who started the gold rush and Chalmers who anchored the men’s 4x100m freestyle to gold who finished it off in style with gold number six, and to the roar of a crowd that saw the great Dawn Fraser cheering from the front row.
Chalmers stepped up to record his first major 200m freestyle title and he did it with a blistering final 50 metres to spearhead an Australian quinella with night one’s 400m golden boy Mack Horton storming home from lane one to claim silver.
Swimming in his first major championship final over the distance Chalmers clocked a personal best time of 1:45.56 – the fifth fastest time ever by an Australian – with only 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth champion Ian Thorpe, 2010 winner Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Kenrick Monk and Cam McEvoy swimming faster.
Horton’s time of 1:45.89 was also a personal best and the seventh fastest by an Australian which augurs well for Australia’s 4x200m freestyle chances in this meet and when they meet the Americans in this year’s Pan Pacific Championships en-route to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“It was awesome, it’s a bit of a blur now, I haven’t really had experience of doing two races in one night, the relay is in the back of my mind,” said Chalmers.
“I knew Chad Le Clos was going to go real quick in that first 100, and by 150m I knew that I had him and that was pretty awesome and unexpected, I thought he’d hold on a bit longer as well.
“And then I could see James Guy to the right of me, and I was breathing to him and we were in a bit of a dog fight for about 25m and I thought I was clear but Mack really snuck up on me there. It’s awesome to go 1-2 with Mack.
“I now have to go back and try and sleep after this exciting night for me, but also an exciting night as a whole.
“We won six gold medals which is unbelievable. I struggled to sleep last night after watching it on TV, and to be a part of it tonight is unbelievable. Let’s hope I can have a sleep tonight before the 100 free tomorrow.”
Other outstanding performances included:
The first sweep of the meet in the women’s 100m butterfly to Emma McKeon (56.78) – for a new Games record, lowering the mark set by her training partner Maddie Groves, who snuck in for silver in 57.17 with Brianna Throssell (57.30) rounding out the top podium finishes with the three gold caps dominated the race from the gun.
Another Games record fell to Cate Campbell in the semis of the 100m freestyle with her time of 23.88 with younger sister Bronte and training partner Shayna Jack are all safely through to the final tomorrow night.
A second quinella to Mitch Larkin (53.18) and rookie Brad Woodward (53.95) in the men’s 100m backstroke in commanding style.
Gold to Larkin’s training partner Clyde Lewis in the grueling 400m individual medley in the second fastest time ever by an Australian of 4:13.12, a swim that saw him push his body to the limit to record Australia’s first win in the event since Justin Norris in Manchester in 2002.
Tim Disken in the S9 100m freestyle, winning Australia’s first Para-sport gold medal of the Games who soared through the water to finish in a time of 56.07 – more than one second in front of England’s Lewis White, and 1.83 seconds in front of Australian Brenden Hall, who claimed bronze. “It wasn’t a PB…but I got the job done,” said Disken.
The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay of Cam McEvoy (48.91), James Magnussen (48.09), Jack Cartwright (47.71) and Chalmers 48.25) for 3:12.96 – shy of their Games record in the morning heats of 3:12.72 who beat England and Scotland to win their sixth gold.
In the 200m freestyle, Chalmers and Horton timed their races to perfection, with Chalmers touching fifth at the 50m turn in 24.89; sixth at the 100m in 52.44 and second at the 150m mark in 1:19.27 after South African Chad Le Clos went out like a scolded cat in 51.16 before fading to finish seventh.
And Horton was even further behind – last at the 50 in 25.30; sixth at 100m in 52.44 and fifth at 150m in 1:19.60.
Both boys powered home over the final 50m in 26.29.
Another Paralympic star, Ellie Cole (1:11.51) finished with silver in the S9 100m backstroke behind England’s Alice Tai (1:08.77) with fellow Aussie Ashleigh McConnell (1:15.93) the bronze.
Australia’s first medal of the night went to two-times gold medallist and defending champion Leiston Pickett who won a close-up bronze in the women’s 50m breaststroke in her home pool.
A trio of Australian Paralympians also competed in the women’s S9 100m backstroke tonight; six-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Cole (1:11.51) and Rio Paralympians Ashleigh McConnell (1:15.93) and Madeleine Scott. While Cole was the favourite to win the race tonight, having won back-to-back gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, she was unable to extend her reign to the Commonwealth Games, with England’s S10 star Alice Tai claiming the title in 1:08.77 – more than two seconds in front of Cole in silver with McConnell bagging the bronze.
The medal tally after night two stands at: eight gold, seven silver and eight bronze for a total of 23.
Heats will commence tomorrow at 10:30am.