World Championships: Australia Clips World Record to Defeat Canada, U.S. in Mixed 400 Free Relay

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Australia's Mollie O'Callaghan -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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World Championships: Australia Clips World Record to Defeat Canada, U.S. in Mixed 400 Free Relay

When Kyle Chalmers reversed course and made a last-minute decision to attend the World Championships, he was only set to race butterfly in Budapest, but the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 freestyle remained an option for all relays — and Australia has strategically deployed Chalmers to great effect this week. In the men’s 400 free relay final, Australia was fifth with 50 meters to go before Chalmers split 46.60 to pull his team into silver-medal position, and when Chalmers swam the second leg of Australia’s mixed 400 free relay, he delivered a lead that his teammates would not relinquish.

This time, Chalmers split 46.98, following a solid 48.12 leadoff leg from Jack Cartwright. All of the teams in the final went with two male swimmers and then two female swimmers, and for the last two legs, Australia turned to veteran Madison Wilson and 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan. O’Callaghan has been brilliant this week at her first World Championships, having already won gold in the 100 free and women’s 400 free relay plus silver in the 200 free, while Wilson was filling in for Shayna Jack, who was ruled out of the meet after breaking her hand in warmups.

Both came through, with Wilson splitting 52.25 and O’Callaghan anchoring in 52.03. That duo extended Australia’s lead to 1.23 seconds by the finish, and the team finished in 3:19.38, clipping the world record of 3:19.40 established by the United States at the last World Championships in Gwangju three years ago.

“It’s pretty unexpected,” Wilson said of the team’s world-record-setting performance I don’t think there was any mention or any expectation or even a thought of being able to break that. To do that and see that at the end was unbelievable and a real surprise for us.”

Chalmers was particularly fired up after the race as he delivered a strong performance just one day after a disappointing 22nd-place finish in the 100 fly.

“I dare anyone to say that it’s a flop or that I’m undeserving of this spot,” Chalmers said. “I do my thing for the relay. It’s great to win, great to get a world record, and it’s all I can ask for.”

It’s notable that Australia pulled off gold in this race without sprint greats Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell, neither of whom is swimming at these World Championships. McKeon won gold in the 100 free at the Tokyo Olympics while Campbell earned bronze. But Australia’s female sprinters have still exceled this week, with a comfortable win in the women’s 400 free relay, O’Callaghan’s individual world title and now this mixed relay gold medal to show for it.

The battle for second place was tight throughout between Canada and the United States. American leadoff swimmer Ryan Held got his team into the lead with a 47.93 split, while Canada’s Josh Liendo touched in 48.02. Liendo won bronze in the individual 100 free earlier this week, and already during the Friday evening session, he had placed fifth in the 50 free and earned another bronze in the 100 fly, so his effort was exceptional for his third race of the night.

As Chalmers roared into first place, American Brooks Curry pulled slightly further ahead of Canada’s Javier Acevedo, but the Canadian women’s duo of Kayla Sanchez and Penny Oleksiak out-split Americans Torri Huske and Claire Curzan, respectively. Oleksiak anchored in a blistering 52.11 to snag silver in 3:20.61, while the Americans ended up with bronze in 3:21.09.

No other team ever seriously challenged for a medal, with Great Britain’s strong quartet of Tom DeanLewis BurrasAnna Hopkin and Freya Anderson the best of the rest at 3:22.44.

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torchbearer
1 month ago

Jack anchored Australia’s mixed medley relay..not MOC.

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