Article by Julian Linden courtesy of the Courier Mail.
AUSTRALIA’S champion swimmers have turned the Birmingham Aquatic Centre into their own golden pond.
Just when you thought the Dolphins couldn’t do any better than their five-gold medal haul from Tuesday morning – they went one better and picked up six more on Wednesday morning – capped by a stunning win in the mixed medley relay.
With Emma McKeon picked ahead of Kyle Chalmers to swim the freestyle leg, the Aussie blew their opposition apart to win the gold and remain undefeated in the relays with one day of swimming to go.
Teaming up with Kaylee McKeown (backstroke), Zac Stubblety-Cook (backstroke) and Matt Temple (butterfly), the Australians smashed their rivals to triumph in a combined time of 3:41.30. Canada finished second to grab silver, with the bronze going to England.
The Australian selectors pulled a bit of a surprise when Kyle Chalmers was left off the team, despite being in great form in Birmingham, winning three gold medals, including his individual 100m freestyle final.
But the coaches decided to retain the same combination that performed so well in Tokyo last year, winning a bronze medal, and it paid off.
For McKeon, it was yet another milestone win. She picked up her fifth gold medal in Birmingham, lifting her career total to 13, a record.
The 28-year-old has also won a silver (100m butterfly) and bronze (100m freestyle) to take her total number to 19 medals – a record for any competitor, from any country and from any sport at the Commonwealth Games.
And she still has the women’s medley relay to go where the Aussies will be odds-on to win another gold.
McKeown captured her third gold in Birmingham after winning the 100m-200m backstroke double. She also has the 50m backstroke and medley relay to come.
Stubblety-Cook and Temple each collected their second golds. They’ll have their chances at pocketing a third in the men’s medley relay, where they will be rejoined by Chalmers for the final. After five days of competition completed, the Australian swimmers have won 22 gold medals from 43 events.
There are nine races on the sixth and final day. The Dolphins need to win six to tie and seven to beat their all-time records of 28 at a single Commonwealth Games.
Ian Thorpe, commentating for Channel 7, was gushing with praise for McKeon’s latest achievement, saying she was a bona fide legend.
“So many events, so many great performances, so many great memories for Emma McKeon and for all of us,” he said.