IMAGE|| MICHAEL WILLSON
Queen of the pool Cate Campbell and backstroke king Mitch Larkin have led two stunning clean sweeps on another golden night in the Optus Aquatic Centre for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Dolphins took their gold medal tally to 16 with five victories and their overall medal tally to 45 (16-15-14) with four silver and four bronze medals with two nights still remaining.
Larkin (24.68) led his backstroking buddies, defending champion Ben Treffers (24.84) and WA’s Zac Incerti (25.06) to the first of the two trifectas in the 50m backstroke, giving him the 50-100m backstroke double – joining Matt Welsh (2002) and England’s Liam Tancock (2010) as the third swimmer to win the sprint double.
Larkin said he knew the crowd was going to be awesome.
“It’s so amazing, I wish you could get that every time you raced. Just to take it in and enjoy it,” Larkin said.
“I just wanted to tweak a few things from last night; hit the accelerator a little bit earlier than last night and hit that finish to put it together.”
Campbell had earlier showed no signs of slowing down setting a Games record of 52.64 in the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle before launching herself down the pool to win her third gold of the meet in the 50m butterfly.
It was the second of two sweeps for the Aussies with Campbell repeating what England’s Fran Halsall did in Glasgow to win the 50 freestyle-50 butterfly double.
Campbell fought all the way to the finish to win her second individual gold in 25.59 with Holly Barratt (25.67) and Maddie Groves (25.67) hot on her heels for silver and bronze.
Campbell said she was “actually really stoked” with the 50m butterfly after picking up the event as a “bit of a joke” towards the end of last year for World Cups.
“Then I qualified for Games and suddenly it wasn’t such a joke, you’re standing up and representing your country.
“I just tried to keep relaxed and enjoy it and I’ve got so many things to work on, which I’m probably not going to do, because it’s a non-Olympic event.
“I’ll still swim it for fun to break up my program and break up my training but I’m actually really pleased with that one.”
Earlier in the night Paralympic stars Jesse Aungles and Lakeisha Patterson grabbed golds before a world class Games record to the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
Aungles (2:30.77) edged out teammate Blake Cochrane (2:32.72) in a thrilling 1-2 finish to the men’s SM8 200m Individual Medley final, before Patterson powered home to win the women’s S9 100m freestyle with compatriot Ellie Cole (1:03.36), who turned first, taking bronze.
“It’s always the most exciting race having [Cochrane] alongside me. It really gets the nerves into a gear that I didn’t think I had,” Aungles said.
“I’ve never experienced pain like the last 50 in a 200IM. And then again when Blake is next to me, it is a whole other level.
“But there is a point where you don’t feel pain any more. You’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re focused and you just put your head down and finish hard. I think I did that well tonight and just managed to hold him off.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. But it’s absolutely incredible.” Aungles said
Aungles won silver in the same event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. His time four years later was more than two seconds faster.
It wasn’t long before the home crowd had more to cheer about, with Patterson upstaging the field in the 100m final less than 10 minutes later. As an S8 swimmer, the Queenslander was competing against athletes with a higher level of physical function.
And she won it the hard way. With her teammate Cole in front at the turn for home with Patterson in third, it was going to take something special in the dying stages to steal victory.
“I knew that the girls in that field, their strength lies in that first 50, so I knew that as long as I could be pretty close to them in that first 50, I would have a good chance in that second 50 to bring it home,” Patterson said.
The men’s 4x200m freestyle relay quartet of Alexander Graham (1:1:46.60), Kyle Chalmers (1:46.47), Elijah Winnington and Mack Horton (1:46.93) combined for the final event of the evening to take the win and defend their Glasgow crown in a new Games Record time of 7:05.97.
After setting a personal best time in the morning time trial of 1:45.69 it was Graham who took the team to the front in the lead off swim, handing over to the Commonwealth Games champion in the event Chalmers to further the Aussies lead.
Chalmers has had a busy program with the 100/200freestyle double and multiple relays but said he was happy with his results tonight.
“It’s been a tough few days for me backing up races, but to win tonight with these boys is a great sign heading into Tokyo (2020 Olympics),” Chalmers said.
Then it was Australian Swim Team debutant, 18-year-old Elijah Winnington, who had the almighty task of maintaining his composure and in front of a roaring home-crowd. The Gold Coast local kept his cool and split a 1:45.97 to hand over to Horton with half a body-length’s lead.
“My first senior team, my first international competition. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my career,” Winnington said.
“I swam a PB this morning and I wanted to come out tonight and prove that I was meant to be here. I rode the crowd for the first 100 (metres) and brought it home with everything I had.” The silver medallist from this event Horton stuck to his race plan and flew home in the final stages of the race to smash the Games record and touch the wall a body-length ahead of England’s James Guy who split a 1:45.24 trying to catch Horton.
England picked up the silver in 7:08.57 with Scotland bagging the bronze in 7:09.89.
It was also a night that saw Scotland’s Duncan Scott (48.02) “do a Kyle Chalmers” to beat the Olympic champion in a thrilling finish with Chalmers (48.15) dead-heating with South African ‘flyer Chad Le Clos.
Scott was 6th and Chalmers 7th at the turn after Australian Cam McEvoy (22.83) and Le Clos (22.86) sizzled down the first lap, setting up a mouth-watering finish.
And as hard as they tried the three Aussies, with Jack Cartwright, couldn’t match Scott who became Scotland’s first ever gold medallist in the blue ribband event – clocking a personal best.
Meanwhile Emily Seebohm left her run too late to finish third in the women’s 200m backstroke – running out of water as she chased the Canadian duo Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck over the final stages of the race.
Seebohm trailed the two Maple Leafers through the first three laps with Ruck in lane one, going out under world record pace ahead of Masse in lane four and Seebohm in lane two.
The world champion plans her races to come home strongly but the Canadians had opened up leads she couldn’t peg back.
In the end it was Masse who completed the 100-200m Games double in a Games record time of 2:05.98 from the brave 17-year-old Ruck in 2:06.42 with Seebohm third in 2:06.82.
Seebohm stormed home to split 31.82 over the final lap, with Ruck splitting 32.74 and Masse 32.59 – with the medals decided over the first three laps and for Seebohm it was her 13th Games medal.