Closing out on eight days of stellar racing from our Australian Dolphins in Gwangju at the 2019 FINA World Swimming Championships. Here's a recap of highlights each day.
Day 1 Highlights
On day one of competition, Australian teenager Ariarne Titmus made history, breaking a 40-year drought for the Australian women in the 400m Freestyle. Titmus became the first Australian woman to claim world championship gold in the event since Tracy Wickham in 1978, in a swim for the ages setting a new Commonwealth and Australian Record in 3:58.76 ending USA superfish Katie Ledecky’s winning streak or three consecutive World Championship titles in this event.
Australia’s second gold of the meet, the Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay stood high on top of the podium as they claimed gold and set a new Championship record. The team of Bronte Campbell, Brianna Throssell, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell came home in a time of 3:30.21 ahead of the United States and Canada.
In a superb performance, Mack Horton returned to form claiming silver in the Men’s 400m Freestyle in the second fastest time of 2019, touching behind China’s Sun Yang in 3:43.17.
Day 2 Highlights
Emma McKeon claimed bronze in the Women’s 100m Butterfly. With a moving tribute on the podium along with fellow medallists Margaret MacNeil and Sarah Sjostrom, the winners sent a message of support to talented Japanese butterfly swimmer Rikako Ikee, former training partner of McKeon who is currently battling leukemia.
In one of the most exhilarating spectacles of night two, Clyde Lewis swum the race of his life in the Men’s 200m Freestyle semi-final to hit the wall first in a personal best – and impressive – time of 1:44.90. Making him the second fastest Australian of all time, 0.19 off swimming great Ian Thorpe’s 2004 Olympic gold medal winning time.
Day 3 Highlights
It was backstroke specialists Minna Atherton and Mitch Larkin who took to the podium on day three of competition, claiming silver and bronze respectively in the 100m backstroke events.
For only the second time in her career, Atherton recorded sub 59 seconds in the 100m backstroke to claim silver in 58.85. In the tightest of finishes, the 19-year-old was only 0.25 behind gold medallist and defending champion Kylie Masse of Canada.
Larkin secured bronze in the corresponding event for the men. Larkin showed his class and clocked 52.77 to take the podium finish by only one one hundredth of a second.
Day 4 Highlights
Australia claimed gold in the 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay, storming home in a nail-biter to beat the United States by two one hundredths of a second.
Storming home in a nail-biter to beat the United States by two one hundredths of a second was the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay featuring Mitch Larkin, Matt Wilson, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell. Clocking in 3:39.08 the team took the top honour in the new Olympic event. Recording an incredible split of 51.10 in the final leg, Campbell brought the team home to give Australia its third gold medal of the championships.
Ariarne Titmus secured her second medal of the champs in South Korea, collecting silver in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.
Day 5 Highlights
In a phenomenal finish, Australia broke the world record in the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay to claim the coveted gold ahead of the USA. In spectacular fashion, the quartet of Ariarne Titmus (1:54.27), Madison Wilson (1:56.73), Brianna Throssell (1:55.60) and Emma McKeon (1:54.90) posted 7:41.50 to smash the previous world record of 7:42.08 which was set by the People’s Republic of China a decade ago in 2009.
Titmus tackled the first leg of the race and set a new Commonwealth record in the process to give her teammates a lead, while Wilson and Throssell held strong in the middle and McKeon anchored the team to bring them home.
Building on his already impressive Commonwealth Record, Matthew Wilson surged to the wall in 2:06.67 to equal the world record and set a new championship record in the semi-final of the Men’s 200m Breaststroke. Eclipsing his personal best and clearly claiming the fastest time by an Australian.
Day 6 Highlights
Claiming Australia’s fourth relay world title, the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle team stormed to victory in a new Oceania record time of 7:00.85. The quartet of Clyde Lewis (1:45.58), Kyle Chalmers (1:45.37), Alex Graham (1:45.05) and the strong finishing Mack Horton (1:44.85) proved too powerful for the hotly contested field, which saw Russia nab silver in 7:01.81 and the USA receive bronze in 7:01.98. It marked Australia's return to the top spot of the podium since 2003 in this event.
Diving in from lane five, the triple Olympian Cate Campbell hit the wall in 52.43 in the 100m Freestyle – just three one hundredths of a second ahead of Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom – to secure second spot and her third podium finish off the meet. Fellow Dolphin Emma McKeon, who’s proudly powering through her program, touched in 52.75 to place fourth, while America’s Olympic champion Simone Manuel won the gold from lane one in 52.04.
Later in the evening Wilson backed up his world-record-equalling semi-final performance in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke, powering home in 2:06.68 – only one one hundredth of second behind last night’s time – to take home the silver. Already a gold medallist from the mixed medley relay, the 20-year-old finished behind Russia’s Anton Chupkov, who set a new world record of 2:06.12. Dolphin Zac Stubblety-Cook also swum in the final, placing a solid fourth 2:07.36.
Day 7 Highlights
Backstroke specialist Kaylee McKeown captured her first world championships medal steaming home to claim silver in the Women’s 200m Backstroke. Posting a personal best time of 2:06.26 to secure second spot and a podium finish, McKeown bettered her performance from 2017 in Budapest which saw her break the junior world record and place fourth overall.
In 8:15.70, Ariarne Titmus set a new Oceania record and smashed her personal best to claim bronze in the Women’s 800m Freestyle.
In the final event of the night, Australia’s relay team of Kyle Chalmers (47.37), Clyde Lewis (48.18), Emma McKeon (52.06) and Bronte Campbell (52.36) claimed silver in the 4x100m Mixed Freestyle Relay. Their impressive time of 3:19.97 set a new Commonwealth record and marked Australia’s sixth relay medal of the competition. The USA won gold in a new world record time of 3:19.40, while France received bronze in 3:22.11.
Day 8 Highlights
In an extremely tight ‘splash and dash’, Cate Campbell hit the wall in 24.11 to achieve third spot on the podium behind winner Simone Manuel (USA) and Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) who finished second.
In the final race of the world championships, Australia achieved its seventh medal in a relay event, with a silver in the Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay. Campbell once again anchored the team in the final freestyle leg (51.96), Minna Atherton (59.06) dived in first for the backstroke lap, while breaststroker Jess Hansen (1:06.08) and butterflier Emma McKeon (56.32) held strong in the middle stages. Clocking 3:53.42, they finished behind the USA who won in a world record time of 3:50.40.
With the World Championships in Gwangju drawing to a close, all attention will now turn to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which is less than one year to go.