Swimming world championships 2022: Emma McKeon’s anchor leg makes history, Australia breaks 4x100m freestyle world record, Day 1 results

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Emma McKeon is Australia’s most successful Olympian for a reason.

The hero from last year’s Tokyo Olympics stole the show on the opening night of the world short course swimming championships in Melbourne with a blistering relay leg in the women’s 4x100m freestyle.

Diving in the water a second behind the USA’s Erika Brown, McKeon chewed up the deficit over a lightning fast four laps to lead Australia to gold and smash the world record in a time of 3:25.43.

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McKeon’s split was 49.96 seconds — the first time a woman has swum a freestyle relay split in under 50 seconds.

Remarkably, McKeon shaved four tenths of a second off the previous fastest relay split, swum by fellow Australian Cate Campbell.

“It’s pretty cool,” McKeon said of becoming the first woman to swim the 100m freestyle in sub-50 seconds.

“There’s some incredible short course swimmers who have been racing years before me.

“I think Cate’s got our (individual) world record so there’s a high calibre there. To be the first person doing 49 in a relay is pretty cool.”

McKeon is Australia’s most decorated Olympian with 11 medals and her opening hit-out at the world short course titles in Melbourne suggests she is still very much at the peak of her powers.

Australia’s women have been unstoppable in the 4x100m freestyle relay in long course over the past decade, but it was the first time they had won gold in the event at a short course world championships.

And with the world record, the quartet of McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan (52.19sec), Madi Wilson (51.28) and Meg Harris (52.00) will pick up a $25,000 bonus from swimming’s governing body for their trouble.

Mollie O’Callaghan summed it up best after the race when she quipped: “We all did pretty f***ing amazing.”

McKeon added: “We kind of knew that world record was in reach.”

“I always put my best races together in a relay I think. I love the team event and I love putting my best swim together for them. Definitely very happy to do that on the first night.”

In the men’s 4x100m freestyle, Italy broke the world record but Kyle Chalmers rocketed home in a split of 44.98 to steer Australia to silver in a very solid result.

The sprint king appears is in red-hot form ahead of his much anticipated showdown with Romanian teen sensation David Popovici in the individual 100m freestyle on Thursday.

Earlier, Lani Pallister took advantage of a weakened field to win the 400m freestyle, while Kaylee McKeown claimed bronze in the 200 individual medley.

Originally published as ‘Ridiculous’: Emma McKeon makes history as Aussie women smash world record

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