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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Australian swimmers enjoy historic opening night at World Swimming Championships

Ariarne Titmus enters the pool ahead of her gold medal and world record breaking swim. Picture: Lee Jin-man.

Australia enjoyed their most successful day in world championships history on a remarkable opening night at the world swimming championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Five finals were held on the first night of competition with The Dolphins claiming four gold medals, two of which were also world records. It is the Aussies' best gold medal haul in a single day in the 50-year history of the world championships.

Ariarne Titmus headlined the Dolphins' winners as she won gold in the 400m freestyle, which lived up to its hype as the main event of the championships. The reigning Olympic champion dominated the field to win gold and reclaim her world record with a time of 3:55.38, 3.35 seconds ahead of reigning Olympic silver medallist American Katie Ledecky in second place.

Titmus broke the world record in the Australian championships at Adelaide in 2022 before Canadian Summer McIntosh broke it at the Canadian trials in March of this year. Erika Fairweather from New Zealand edged out McIntosh for the bronze medal. Titmus called it her "most satisfying win" and insisted she was fully focussed on the result, not the world record which earned her a bonus of more than $44,000.

“The only way to win is to take it out, to see who had the most fight, and who had the most gas left in the tank. I am happy that it worked. I honestly did not think about getting the world record back.”

19-year-old prodigy Samuel Short narrowly won the men's 400m freestyle in a time of 3:40.68; Tunisian runner-up Ahmed Hafnaoui was agonisingly close to the gold as he clocked in at 3:40.70. Fellow Aussie Elijah Winnington finished in seventh place in a swim that was three seconds slower than his gold medal-winning personal best time at last year's world championships. Short knew Hafnaoui was a great competitor and said the win was "a dream come true".

“I knew it was going to be a race of two with 100 left. I kind of had goosebumps thinking I was in the race with him. I put my head down at the end. I don’t know how I beat his long arms to the wall, but I did it.”

The Dolphins' men and women both claimed gold in the 4x100m freestyle, the women did so by breaking their own world record set at the Tokyo Olympics by nearly two seconds with a time of 3:27.96.

It marks the fifth consecutive world record broken by Australia in the event, all five of which have featured Emma McKeon who swam the final leg of the relay at Fukuoka. McKeon's swim was preceded by Mollie O'Callaghan, Shayna Jack and Meg Harris.

The four previous world record breaking quartets all featured McKeon and the Campbell sisters, Bronte and Cate. Harris was the fourth member of the previous world record breaking team at the Tokyo Olympics, and Jack was the fourth member of the world record breaking team at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games before that. O'Callaghan has never been part of a world record breaking quartet but strengthened her case for future selections by swimming a personal best in the first leg of the relay.

The men's team won gold with a time of 3:10.16, less than one second ahead of Italy and USA for silver and bronze as they broke a 12-year drought in the event.

Kyle Chalmers swam the last leg of the race to secure the gold medal, as teammates Jack Cartwright, Flynn Southam and Kai Taylor all swam well to set him up to bring it home.

The only gold on the night which eluded Australia was in the 400m individual medley, won by France's Leon Marchand in a world record breaking time of 4:02.5. The record was previously held by Michael Phelps, who set the record at the Beijing Olympics when he spectacularly won eight gold medals and set seven world records.

The record is symbolic of a remarkable new era in swimming as it was Phelps' last standing individual world record and also the longest standing world record.


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