It was another golden night in the pool for Australia at the swimming world championships on Thursday as Kyle Chalmers, Kaylee McKeown and the women's 4x200m relay team all triumphed. Chalmers finally broke through for gold in the 100m freestyle, while McKeown was too good in the 50m backstroke.
Australia's golden girls then shattered the world record in the 4x200m relay, winning the country's ninth gold medal at the meet - the most at any world championships since 2007. It was also Australia's third world record of the meet, with Ariarne Titmus (400m freestyle) and Mollie O'Callaghan (200m freestyle) collecting their second each as part of the relay team.
'COMPLETELY UNFAIR': Kaylee McKeown rages at disqualification
O'Callaghan, Shayna Jack, Brianna Throssell and Titmus absolutely obliterated the previous world record, clocking seven minutes 37.50 seconds to eclipse Australia's previous mark of 7:39.29 set at last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Titmus' anchor leg of 1:52.4 was the fastest split in the history of the event.
It came after Chalmers collected the only gold medal that was missing from his cabinet. The 25-year-old had won 100m gold at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and short course world championships, but never at a long course world championships before. Chalmers triumphed with a trademark last-lap surge, turning in seventh place before powering to the finish to win in 47.15 from American Jack Alexy (47.31).
"I have had to work so much harder for that moment," Chalmers said. "Obviously, 2016 (Olympics) I was an 18-year-old kid and, to be honest, I didn't really know what I achieved in that moment.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) July 27, 2023
"I have had to work so hard for seven years, sacrifice so much, go through heart surgery, shoulder surgeries, some pretty bad mental health times throughout this last little period. So I know how much it means to me, my family, my friends."
In regard to his world championships breakthrough, Chalmers admitted: “I feel awesome. That was the last medal I had to complete the set in my swimming career so to be able to do that tonight in such a stacked field was very special. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have doubt in mind at times that I would be able to achieve that."
Kaylee McKeown makes more history at swimming world champs
McKeown earlier broke the Australian and Commonwealth records in the 50m backstroke, adding the gold medal to the 100m title she collected two nights ago. She became the first swimmer in history to do the 50/100m backstroke double at a single world championships. McKeown clocked 27.08, inside her own previous Australian record of 27.16 set in 2021, to pip American rival Regan Smith (27.11).
Liz Dekkers also collected a silver medal in the 200m butterfly, with Canadian 16-year-old Summer McIntosh taking the gold medal in 2:04.06. In the women's 100m freestyle semi-finals, O'Callaghan and Emma McKeon both advanced to Friday night's final.
One night after breaking the 200m world record, O'Callaghan won her semi in 52.86. In the same semi-final, McKeon finished third in 53.00.
In the men's 200m breaststroke semi-finals, Australia's world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook was fastest qualifier for the medal race in a time of 2:07.27. Abbey Harkin (2:23.65) secured her berth in Friday night's 200m breaststroke final, while Brad Woodward advanced to the men's 200m backstroke final in a time of 1:56.16.
Swimming fans and commentators were left in awe at Australia's performance so far in Fukuoka.
Omg!!! This was so awesome to watch!!! What an anchor leg!!!
FAST SWIMMING!!!!! Yay!!!
— transplantrockstar (he/him) (@tx_rockstar) July 27, 2023
1:52.4 is actually insane
— meg | ledecky 20x world titles !! (@mrsbokuto) July 27, 2023
— Susie Noonan (@SusieNoonan2) July 27, 2023
amazing how much golds medal australia has conquered over the us🤦🏾
— Roberto (@Roberto58398195) July 27, 2023
Aussies just slaying it like no one’s business. Amazing amazing feats !!!
— Jyoti Rai Dhakal (@jyotiraidhk) July 27, 2023
Go you beautiful Golden girls. Awesome stuff
— Troy Puckridge (@TPuckridge) July 27, 2023
Ariarne Titmus is amazing.
— Rupigwára Bicampeão 🏆🏆 (@EricooSales) July 27, 2023
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.