Emma McKeon led Australia to a new world record in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay on day one of the World Short Course Championships in Melbourne on Tuesday, while Italy shattered the men’s mark.
The Australians -- Mollie O’Callaghan, Madi Wilson, Meg Harris and McKeon -- stopped the clock at 3mins 25.43secs to obliterate the old best of 3:26.53 set by the Netherlands in 2014.
The Americans led through the first 300m but pool queen McKeon -- who won seven medals at the Tokyo Olympics last year, a feat no other female swimmer has achieved -- reeled in Erika Brown and powered to the wall first. Canada took bronze
“It’s extra special doing it in front of a home crowd,” said McKeon. “It’s great for the sport.”
The Italian men were also firing with Alessandro Miressi, Paolo Conte Bonin, Leonardo Deplano and Thoma Ceccon outpacing Australia to set a new world record of 3:02.75.
It bettered the previous best of 3:03.03 held by the United States since 2018.
An electric Lani Pallister, meanwhile, claimed the women’s 400m freestyle title for Australia after Chinese defending champion and world record holder Li Bingjie failed to show up.
Li, who was the hot favourite, reportedly has a high fever and missed the heats, as did several other Chinese swimmers, including rising medley star Yu Yiting.
Li shattered Australian Ariarne Titmus’s short course record at her national championships in October, clocking 3mins 51.30secs.
In her absence, Pallister outpaced New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather to touch in a personal best 3:55.04.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Pallister. “My parents are in the stands and winning this first medal in front of a home crowd in Australia is special.”
Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Kate Douglass (2:02.12) won the women’s 200m medley gold ahead of fellow American Alex Walsh, with Australia’s Kaylee McKeown third and Canadian defending champion Sydney Pickrem fifth.
South African Matthew Sates (1:50.15) took out the men’s 200m medley honours, hitting the wall ahead of the USA’s Carson Foster. Japanese defending champion and top seed Daiya Seto could only manage fifth.
“I genuinely don’t know what to say. I’m so pleased with this swim,” said Sates.
Italian great Gregorio Paltrinieri capped an exceptional season by winning the 1500m in 14:16.88, adding to his long course world title in Budapest, where he set a new European record.
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