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Medley medals top off Rio swimming campaign

14 August 2016

SWIMMING: The Australian Swimming team have tonight taken their Olympic medal total to 200 after two emphatic finishes in the women’s and men’s 4x100m medley relays, winning silver and bronze respectively.

After a roller coaster week that started with two gold medals on night one, it was only fitting that the final two medals of the Olympic program came in the relays – the only team events in swimming.

While swimming is predominantly an individual sport, the relays are a chance for the swimmers to work together and tonight’s final races were a result of the support and camaraderie within the current Australian swim team.

Australia has a proud history in relays and this week won five medals out of a possible 6 in the relay events in Rio, missing the podium only in the men’s 4x200m freestyle.

The women’s 4x100m medley was up first and the team won silver in a highly competitive field, to pick up Australia’s sixth consecutive Olympic medal in this event.

The quartet of Emily Seebohm, Taylor McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell combined to clock a time of 3:55.00.

The silver medal was won at the wall as a gutsy Campbell blitzed the field in the final leg to split an incredible time of 52.17, the fastest split of the night – faster than the USA’s gold medallist in the 100m freestyle Simone Manuel (52.43).

“I can’t be prouder than that,” Cate said.

“I am so proud of the other three girls they really fought their hearts out. There were some real highs and some real lows this week, but we managed to pull it together when it matters, and that is what the Aussie spirit is all about.”

The Aussies snuck into second place by just 0.01 of a second, relegating Denmark to bronze in 3:55.01 while the USA took top spot in 3:53.13.

With a speedy start from Seebohm, who split a 58.83, the girls were in the mix for a medal early on but would need to all go close to their best to get on the podium.

The breaststroke leg saw McKeown come up against some tough competition touching out of the top four as the Sunshine Coast star split a 1:07.05 to hand over to her teammate McKeon.

“This is definitely a memory that will stay with me forever,” McKeown said.

“In the end we got there, Cate had an amazing finish. Nothing can top that. I came to this Olympics and didn’t expect to get any medals so to walk away with silver, I am very, very happy.”

The butterfly leg was where the girls made their move with triple medallist from the meet so far McKeon helping to add a fourth medal to her tally with a 56.95 split, bringing the team back in contention to hand over to Campbell to hang on.

But Campbell did much more than just hang on, in true champion style, after swimming her 50m freestyle final just moments earlier, Campbell exploded off the blocks to storm home and secure the silver medal for the team.

Then it was the men’s turn, with the Olympic medal tally at 199 before the start it would have been a four year wait for the 200th medal milestone if it weren’t for a super speedy anchor leg from ‘the kid’, Kyle Chalmers.

Chalmers clocked the fastest split of the night with a 46.72 to bring Australia into bronze medal position with a 3:29.93.

“Yeah very happy with that I knew it was my last swim of the meet so gave it everything I had and everything for these boys and the country so very happy for tonight's result and look forward to the future,” Chalmers said.

With world champion Mitch Larkin leading them off the Aussies were third at the change following an incredible world record split from the USA’s Ryan Muprhy who clocked a 51.85 in the backstroke.

Both Jake Packard (58.84) and David Morgan (51.18) produced solid swims to keep Australia within reach of a medal and then it was left to Chalmers to bring them home.

The 18-year-old kid from South Australia left nothing to chance as he powered down the pool in the final 50 metres bringing the team into the bronze medal position with a time of 3:29.93.

Chalmers will leave Rio with three medals in total; one gold and two bronze – a feat he never though was possible before the Games.

“I didn't think it would be possible, but I knew we had a great team in both the relays so was hoping to get medals in those, so the individual one is just a massive bonus!” Chalmers said.

“It's been pretty overwhelming; I think that's probably the best way to describe it,” Chalmers said of his individual gold in the 100m freestyle.

Lots of people messaging me and lots of people, lots of family and friends so excited for me it means a lot not only to myself but the state, the first gold medallist (in swimming) to come out of SASI (South Australian Institute of Sport).”

The USA grabbed the gold in 3:27.95 while Great Britain took silver in 3:29.24.

Earlier in the night the Campbell sisters were ust behind the place-getters in the 50m freestyle and 400m gold medallist Mack Horton finished fifth in the 1500m freestyle. Read more here>>>

Kathleen Rayment

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