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Australia continues dominance in Commonwealth swimming

Australia dominated the swimming competition at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, winning more than half of the gold medals on offer at the Optus Aquatic Centre. There were also plenty of firsts, breakthrough performances, upsets and two world records.

Australia finished top of the medal tally with 28 gold medals (more than half of the 50 in offer), 21 silvers and 24 bronze, and their wins in all six relays showed why they are the best in the Commonwealth. England was second with nine gold, 10 silver and five bronze, and South Africa third with six gold, three silver and three bronze.

The breakthrough star was Canada’s Taylor Ruck, who leaves the Gold Coast with a medal from each of the eight events in which she competed, including a gold from the 200m freestyle. The 17-year-old has now eclipsed compatriot Elaine Tanner’s record for the most medals won by a Canadian at a single Commonwealth Games.

Mitch Larkin (AUS) was the most successful male swimmer of the meet, winning gold in all five of his events and becoming the first male swimmer to sweep the backstroke events at a Commonwealth Games in the process.

South Africa’s Chad Le Clos was a close second to Larkin for the male swimmer of the meet title, with five medals from seven swims. Le Clos became the first male swimmer to win the same event (the 200m butterfly) at three consecutive Commonwealth Games, and came close to equalling the all-time record of 18 Commonwealth Games medals with his GC2018 medal haul bringing his total to 17.

Other firsts in the pool at GC2018 include Tatjana Schoenmaker becoming the first South African female swimmer to win Commonwealth gold in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke. Dylan Carter won Trinidad and Tobago’s first ever Commonwealth Games swimming medal, a silver in the 50m butterfly.

The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay on the first night of competition (Thursday 5 April) showed the depth of talent in women’s sprinting in Australia, with the quartet of Shayna JACK, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell combining to break a world record (3:30.05).

Cate Campbell, Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon were the most successful Australian female swimmers. Campbell leaves with two individual (50m freestyle and 50m butterfly) and one relay golds, and new Games records in both events. She could not continue her golden run in the 100m freestyle, where her sister Bronte Campbell edged her out for the gold.

Titmus has three gold medals from the 400m and 800m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay. McKeon won the 100m butterfly gold, three relay golds and a bronze in the 200m butterfly.

In the Para swimming events, Lakeisha Patterson (AUS), Sophie Pascoe (NZL) and Timothy Disken (AUS) were double gold medallists.

Patterson, who swims in S8 classification races, achieved the remarkable feat of winning a higher classification race, the S9 100m freestyle, as well as the S8 50m freestyle. In the S9 100m freestyle, Patterson shaved .94 seconds off her S8 100m freestyle world record time.

Disken won the SB8 100m breaststroke and S9 100m freestyle, Patterson the S8 50m freestyle and S9 100m freestyle, and Pascoe the SB9 100m breaststroke and SM10 200m individual medley.

The second world record set in the GC2018 pool was also in Para-swimming, with England’s Thomas Hamer breaking his own record in the S14 200m freestyle.

Kylie Masse the 100m and 200m backstroke titles. Her rivalry with Australian Emily Seebohm was one of the highlights and Seebohm was finally able to get the better of the Canadian on the last night of competition (10 April) in winning the 50m backstroke. Her gold was Australia’s 300th Commonwealth Games gold medal in swimming.

England’s breaststroke world champion Adam Peaty continued his unbeaten record in the 100m breaststroke but was pipped for gold in the 50m breaststroke by South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh. Peaty’s teammate James Wilby won a medal of each colour in the breaststroke races – gold in the 200m, silver in the 100m and bronze in the 50m.

England dominated the women’s individual medley events with Siobhan Marie O’Connor defending her 200m title and Aimee Willmott winning the 400m individual medley. Ben Proud (ENG) also successfully defended his title in the 50m freestyle.

The other major upset of the swimming competition was Duncan Scott (SCO) beating Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers (AUS) in the men’s 100m freestyle. Chalmers and Le Clos finished in a dead heat for second. Scott was another breakthrough performer of GC2018, winning silver in the 200m individual medley and four bronze medals for Scotland in addition to his sprint title.

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