It was another flurry of gold for the Aussies, who capped off their swimming campaign with more moments of elation. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
The tightest of medleys
It was always going to be hard for the Aussies to overcome the strong women’s medley teams of American and Canada, but little did they know just how tight it would be in the final stages of the 4x100m medley relay final.
The quartet of Kaylee McKeown, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell had to produce an Olympic-record winning swim to topple their surrounding giants, with Hodges’ breaststroke the key to keeping Australia within striking distance.
Despite the American team motoring ahead, McKeon’s butterfly effort gave Campbell just enough room to vie for gold. In a desperate final surge up and back down the pool, one of Australia’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony closed the gap and looked to have overrun the US. But a late push made it incredibly tight, with Campbell’s quick changeover with McKeon making the difference as the Aussies triumphed by 0.13 of a second.
It once again confirmed the class of McKeon, while adding yet another gold medal for Campbell and McKeown. Yet many plaudits went to Hodges, who claimed her first gold medal with a sensational breaststroke leg that confirmed Australia as women’s medley relay champions once again.
A McKeon masterclass
Just minutes before the wonderful medley, Emma McKeon was draping herself in yet another gold.
In the mad dash that is the 50m freestyle event, McKeon broke yet another Olympic record and became the number one Australian Olympic Medal winner of all time. This 50m gold would give her 10 in her career over only two Games, while the relay would add an 11th to the collection.
McKeon finished ahead of Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem and Denmark’s Pernille Blume in the crazy sprint to the end.
Dressel the vessel
The way America’s Caeleb Dressel has burst out of the blocks in every race he has swum this Olympics, it was no surprise he went into the men’s 50m freestyle final as a big favourite to claim gold.
Having already won the 100m freestyle final over Australia’s Kyle Chalmers, Dressel characteristically got off to a flyer and could never be reined back in, claiming gold ahead of France’s Florent Manaudou and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus.
It capped off a superb meet for Dressel, who lodged himself fairly and squarely as the world’s best sprint swimmer with consistently sensational performances.
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Finke outlasts a tight pack
It’s been a long time since the Olympics have seen such a close men’s 1500m freestyle final.
But at the final turn of the near 15-minute race, the trio of Robert Finke, Mykhailo Romanchuk and Florian Wellbrock all sat neck and neck, pushing at a record time for gold.
In the end, the American in Finke found the extra gear required, slamming on the afterburners in the final straight to win an amazing gold, just ahead of Romanchuk and Wellbrock.
Just as Australia was surging to the lead in the gold medal count in the swimming, Finke’s desperate surge home gave the US the edge in the ultimate battle of swimming attrition.
A world-record breaking finale
In the final event of the swimming program, America took the opportunity to blow everyone away and claim a farewell world record.
Many coaches in the US team knew the group of Ryan Murphy, Caeleb Dressel, Michael Andrew and Zach Apple were capable of claiming both gold and the world record, but not many expected it when their second-string barely qualified for the final, giving them lane one.
But it did little to put off the Americans, who flew home to claim gold in a stunning fashion. Despite Adam Peaty’s best efforts in the breaststroke leg for the UK, Dressel’s butterfly leg proved the difference, as Apple finished off the freestyle to break history once again. The Americans finished ahead of Great Britain and Italy, with Kyle Chalmers getting Australia to fifth spot with a strong finish.
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