Loss? What loss? Adam Peaty returned to the Gold Medal podium in the 50m breaststroke while Ariarne Titmus swam a time that only Katie Ledecky has ever bettered in the 800 freestyle.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
South Africa swept the women’s breaststroke events officially with Lara Van Niekerk putting up the most impressive swim of the three distances - a gold medal at 1:05.47. The time was faster than the gold medal-winning time from the World Championships last month that was won by Benedetta Pilato at 1:05.93. However, the Games record of 1:05.09 by Leisel Jones will stand for another quadrennium.
"I was trying to keep going,” Van Niekerk said. “I did die in the last 25m but the crowd kept me going and gave me extra adrenaline, it was a good race."
Van Niekerk went 1-2 with 200 champ Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa as Van Niekerk adds to her gold in the 50 breast and lowers her best of 1:05.6 from earlier this year.
"It makes a big difference. Having South Africans there with me really calms the nerves,” Van Niekerk said. “At the worlds I was freaking out but now having been here makes me a bit calmer so I hope we can always have more South Africans in the final."
Schoenmaker, the Olympic silver medalist, finished with silver here at 1:06.68 as South Africa has now won the last two golds in the 100 breaststroke.
"It was a very challenging race. My back end wasn't as strong – I really did die,” Schoenmaker said. “I think (Van Niekerk) challenges me to push myself to go faster in the first 50m. The times aren't really there but I gave it everything I could; it was the best performance I could have given tonight. It’s not the best I've swum but I am very happy and grateful for having not swum well but to still walk away with a silver is such a blessing."
The bronze went to Australia’s Chelsea Hodges (1:07.05) as the entirety of the eight-woman final celebrated together in the pool at the conclusion of the race.
“It was planned when we went to marshalling,” Hodges said. “We decided we’d come together to show how close we all are and that we love racing each other. We’d been joking around in marshalling all week. But we showed we can then race and be all friendly and congratulated each other. These are the friendly Games and we showed that.”
Men’s 200m Backstroke
It was a thrilling finish in the men’s 200 backstroke, with England’s Brodie Williams pulling the upset with a 1:56.40 for the gold medal over Australia’s Bradley Woodward (1:56.41) and South Africa’s Pieter Coetze (1:56.77). The podium is the same as the 100 back but in a different order as Coetze won that final over Williams and Woodward.
"It's amazing,” Williams said. “It's the first time my family have watched me race since Covid-19, so it's a big moment for me and a big moment for my family.”
"I normally try to save a little bit for the last 50 metres,” Coetze said. “It's something I've tried to change because sometimes I find myself a bit too far back, or I leave it too late like I did tonight. I don't think I have ever come back that fast, so to come that close to winning after turning in sixth place was great. I love the 200 back. I just love racing and that was a big battle.”
The real shocker of the race was that Worlds silver medalist Luke Greenbank of England, who had led for 150 meters, faded badly on the last 50 to finish 5th at 1:56.98, while two-time defending champ Mitch Larkin of Australia finished fourth at 1:56.91 and was never a factor in the final.
"I just said, 'you are Olympic bronze medallist, mate, don't worry about it, we will come back stronger, and we will keep fighting together'," Williams said.
Williams is likely to get the nod over Greenbank for tomorrow’s medley relay after he also finished ahead of him in the 100 back final, while Woodward is likely to get the nod for Australia.
Coetze, age 18, also won his third medal of the week after gold in the 100 back and silver in the 50.
Women’s 200m Butterfly
Australia’s new face on the blocks, 18-year-old Elizabeth Dekkers broke through for her first international medal with gold in the 200 butterfly at 2:07.26. Dekkers bided her time, staying even on her splits as she swam a tactical race ahead of England’s Laura Stephens (2:07.90) for the silver medal.
"This means the world to me. It feels like I have been scraping so many finals and not been able to get that individual medal,” Stephens said. “I am over the moon to have come away with my first major meet individual medal. So much has gone into this. It shows a really promising future. This means so much – my breakthrough swim, and hopefully a good career for me now on the international stage."
Without World champion Summer McIntosh of Canada, the race was wide open with someone ready for their breakout moment, and Dekkers took full advantage. She just missed the Worlds podium in June with a fifth place finish in this event, but proved her mettle with gold in Birmingham.
"To be honest 200 fly is not my race so I just wanted to go out and have fun with it - as much as you can with a 200 fly,” Throssell said. “It was always going to be a tough race but I just wanted to go out there and try and work my underwaters and that last turn and come home strong."
Women’s 100m Freestyle
The legend of Mollie O’Callaghan continued Tuesday evening in Birmingham as she followed up her World title in June with a Commonwealth title in August. O’Callaghan won the blue-ribbon event at 52.63, which was faster than what she did in Budapest.
“It’s still sinking in; I’ve still got a long way to improve,” O’Callaghan said. “I guess this is just the beginning, each race is a different race trying new things so I’m not there yet. “It’s really cool (winning), it’s just been amazing so far.”
O’Callaghan has become known for her closing speed as she holds the fastest back end (26.43) in the history of the event from her swim in Budapest. Her split tonight of 26.78 was the fastest in the field by 0.65 seconds.
"I'm really happy with my results tonight, and being on the podium with these other two girls brings such pride to me and the Australian team,” Jack said. “I went in to give it my best shot and I had nothing to lose, so what I left in the pool was everything I had. I am very proud of myself and of the girls. We work really hard to get to this point."
They have showcased the depth in the event for the green and gold as they have a strong nucleus moving forward to the 2024 Olympics in two years time. The Australians now have three of the four fastest times in the world for this event.
"We wouldn’t want any of the other countries [to beat her], just the Aussies,” McKeon said. “I mean one-two-three, that just shows how strong our relay team is as well."
England’s Anna Hopkin took a crack at the Australians but ultimately fell short as she finished fourth overall at 53.57.
Men’s 100m Butterfly
Canada’s Joshua Liendo eased the pains of a disappointing swim in the 100 free to win his first Commonwealth Games gold medal, this time in the 100 butterfly with a 51.24, becoming the first Canadian man to win the event at the Commonwealth Games since Dan Thompson in 1982.
Liendo led from the outset, turning at 23.81 at the halfway point as the Worlds bronze medalist held his own on the back 50, having the second fastest split in the field at 27.43.
Liendo, who was born in the Caribbean, is one of the first black Canadian swimmers to win a medal at a Commonwealth Games.
"It feels great and it definitely feels great people coming up to me and obviously mentioning it and noticing it and all the support that I’m getting,” Liendo said. “I definitely love it and I love to see that I’m a role model because I have people that I look up to and thinking that I’m being seen that way in other people’s eyes is really cool."
“It was a really good race,” Guy said. “Yesterday I felt a bit crap in the semifinal. The butterfly swim was quite hard but 51:04 is the fastest I’ve been all season. My 100m Butterfly hasn’t really been there. The main goal this year was to focus on 200m butterfly and that showed at the worlds but I’ll take a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.”
Liendo ended Chad Le Clos’s chances for a three-peat as the South African finished fourth at 51.61 after coming in as the champion in 2014 and 2018. Australia’s Cody Simpson, swimming in his first major international meet after a successful music career, finished fifth at 52.06.
Men’s 50m Breaststroke
Much to the delight of the British crowd, England’s Adam Peaty avenged his first 100 breast loss in 10 years with a golden swim in the 50 breaststroke, a 26.76 over silver medalist Sam Williamson (26.97) of Australia. Peaty had sustained a foot injury earlier this year that kept him out of the World Championships and had not been at his best at this week’s Games, finishing a surprising fourth in the 100 breast final.
"After the 100m, I was the lowest of the low,” Peaty said. “I had something that was almost guaranteed taken away from me and I took it for granted I think. I was saying to Ross (MURDOCH) in the swim-down I didn't want to do the 50m and he said, 'no, you'll regret it and you'll regret it the day after, a year after and for life'. And I'm glad he was there to encourage me. Yesterday was all about going through the rounds and today was the emotion: that was the rawness and that's what you saw."
But he eased that pain in the 50m final, as the home crowd gave him a standing ovation as he got out of the pool, even his long-time mate, James Guy, was out on the deck applauding Peaty right before the 100 butterfly medal ceremony.
"I reverted to who I am,” Peaty said of how he came back to win. “Mel [MARSHALL (ENG), coach] said this morning, 'today you wake up, will you play?'. I replied straightaway, 'no, I fight', because sometimes playing's not enough and I gave literally absolutely everything in that race. I don't care about the time, I don't care about the result, I just care about enjoying the crowd, being there and winning."
"I’ve grown up watching (Peaty) swim, so just having the opportunity to race against him is something I am never going to forget,” Williamson said. “Ten weeks ago, he broke his foot, so the courage he took to step up and compete this week is incredible. I don’t think anyone else would have had the strength and been able to pull themselves together in that period. To then come out with a medal he has, is due a lot of credit. He is without a doubt the best breaststroker the world has ever seen, so just to be able to stand next to him is pretty bloody cool. I’m really happy with how this week has gone. It has put me in a good spot looking forward. The next two years will be nose to the grindstone, to step-up in Paris [2024 Olympic Games].”
Surprisingly, it is also Peaty’s first gold medal in the 50 at the Commonwealth Games after two straight silvers in 2014 and 2018 to South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh. Despite the injury, the time for Peaty was also a season best.
The bronze went to Scotland’s Ross Murdoch from lane 8 at 27.32, adding to his bronze from the 200, as he has indicated this is his last meet.
"I got a really good message earlier from my old coach and he said ‘that’s where you started your career son, in lane eight where nobody believed in you and that’s where you’ll finish’ and that really got me going today,” Murdoch said. “I sat by myself for about an hour playing my guitar and just tears in my eyes. I was like ‘this is it, you can do it man, believe in yourself, stand up and do it.’ I’m absolutely buzzing that I’ve done it. It’s the only one I’ve never had. I’ve had a 100m medal, 200m medal but all I ever wanted to be was a 50m breaststroker and it’s a poetic end.”
Women’s 800m Freestyle
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus swam a lifetime best in the 800 freestyle final with an 8:13.59 to break her own Games record and improve on her standing as the second fastest swimmer of all-time. USA’s Katie Ledecky has a stranglehold on the all-time performances in this race, as Titmus’ best time here brings her up to 27th on the all-time performance list, with Ledecky holding the fastest 26 times.
“It was alright,” Titmus said. “I would probably have liked to have been a bit faster but I haven’t done an 800 competitively since the Olympics so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m happy with a PB, I’m happy that all three of us were on the podium, it was really fun.”
Titmus led an Aussie sweep with Kiah Melverton (8:16.79) and Lani Pallister (8:19.16) winning silver and bronze. The time for Melverton is a life-time best, putting her 15th on the all-time performers list as she has capped off her year nicely, adding to her silver from the June World Championships. Melverton swum 8:18 when she won silver in Budapest as she improved two seconds on her lifetime best to win silver behind Titmus here at age 25.
Pallister wins her first medal of the week as her attention turns to Wednesday’s 400.
“It’s crazy. I watched the girls when Ariarne took the gold and Kiah the bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 [Gold Coast],” Pallister said. “I was 15 sitting in the stands. If you’d told me four years ago I’d be standing on the podium with them here it’s something I’d never have believed. I’ve missed just one session in the past six months since coming back from injury and illness. I got Covid-19 after the world championships so to get under 8 minutes, 20 seconds again after having eight to nine days out of the water is phenomenal.”
Australia has now swept the medal podium in all of the women’s freestyle events, with just the 400 to go.
“It’s super special. We don’t often get the chance to have three people on the podium,” Melverton said. “Who knows if we will get another clean sweep? But the Aussies are killing it in the pool.”
Mixed Medley Relay
The always chaotic and exciting mixed medley relay concluded the racing on Tuesday evening with yet another gold medal for Australia. The team of Kaylee McKeown (59.01), Zac Stubblety-Cook (59.52), Matthew Temple (50.89) and Emma McKeon (51.88) swam to the inaugural mixed medley gold medal with a 3:41.30, leaving the rest of the nations to fight for silver and bronze.
"It's always great to come up along with the relay guys,” McKeown said. “There's a whole new level of expectation. You just really lift when you come alongside them. It's been a rough week but I'm happy to be here."
"That was one of my favourite races tonight,” Temple said. “Boys versus girls make it really interesting."
McKeon is now the most decorated Australian swimmer at the Commonwealth Games with her 18th career medal.
"The medals are obviously rewarding - it's what we train for,” McKeon said. “But the most rewarding thing for me is keeping myself together for the week. You're putting on the line all the hard work you've done."
And it was an exciting finish behind them. Canada, finishing with a male Ruslan Gaziev (47.80), came storming home to win silver at 3:43.98 ahead of England (3:44.03) and South Africa (3:44.38).
Generally, teams are advised to finish with a female due to the women 100 freestylers being closer to the men than in any other stroke, but different teams have different strengths, and Canada used its strongest team to win silver with Kylie Masse (59.11), James Dergousoff (1:00.57), and Maggie MacNeil (56.50) setting up Gaziev on the anchor.
The English team of Lauren Cox (1:00.81), James Wilby (58.94), James Guy (51.19), and Freya Anderson (53.09) also ran down South Africa to get the first bronze medal in the mixed medley at the Commonwealth Games.
A recap of the semi-finals and a look ahead to Wednesday’s medal events
Men’s 50m Freestyle - How Fast Can Ben Proud Go?
England’s Ben Proud, fresh off a World title in June, cruised, as much as one can cruise in a 50, to the top spot in the 50 free semis with a 21.63 to sit comfortably ahead of 100 fly gold medalist Joshua Liendo (21.92) and teammate Lewis Burras (21.92).
Proud had a sizeable lead against Liendo and Burras in their semi-final heat so all eyes will be on the clock for Proud in the final as he could go faster than his 21.32 at the FINA World Championships.
Women’s 50m Backstroke - Backstroke Hat Trick For McKeown
Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, already the gold medalist in the 100 and 200 back this week in Birmingham, is going for a hat trick in the backstroke races, coming into Wednesday’s final as the third seed at 27.75.
Canada’s Kylie Masse, who has already won silver behind McKeown in the 100 and 200, is the top seed at 27.47, breaking the Games record in the process as she is seeded ahead of Medi Harris (27.64) of Wales, who was bronze in the 100.
100 free gold medalist Mollie O’Callaghan is also in the final as the fourth seed at 27.76.
Men’s 200m IM - Scott v. Dean
Two of the fan favorites in Birmingham - Scotland’s Duncan Scott and England’s Tom Dean have the two fastest season bests in the 200 IM as they will conclude their weeks as co-favorites. New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt, who has already won the 400 IM and 200 fly, could play spoiler here as his good week continues. South Africa’s Matthew Sates and Canada’s Finlay Knox should also factor into the medal picture.
Men’s 1500m Freestyle - Golden Moment For Northern Ireland?
Northern Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen has had a very impressive summer, breaking the Irish records in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyle events this summer. After an easy heats swim, he will do battle with Australia’s Sam Short in the 1500 free final as Wiffen has a very real chance to become Northern Ireland’s first gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games in swimming.
Women’s 400m Freestyle - Titmus v. McIntosh
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus set the world record earlier this year in the 400 freestyle at 3:56.40, becoming the first Australian to set that record since Tracey Wickham in 1978. Titmus earlier this week set the fastest 200 free relay split of all-time en route to the Aussies’ world record in the 4x200 free relay, so she is in top form.
Lurking in the shadows however is Worlds silver medalist Summer McIntosh of Canada, who became the fourth woman to break the 4:00 barrier at the World Championships. If anyone can take down the Olympic champion Titmus, it could be McIntosh.
Also watch Lani Pallister, who won the bronze medal at Worlds in Titmus’s stead.
Men’s 4x100m Medley - England v. Australia
The Australians have won every relay thus far in Birmingham, but the men’s medley relay might be their toughest challenge of the entire week. The English team, who have the upper hand on the first two legs - Brodie Williams on backstroke and James Wilby on breaststroke, will also be likely brought home by James Guy and freestyler silver medalist Tom Dean.
Lineups have not been finalized, but it should be one of the most exciting races of the meet.
Women’s 4x100m Medley - Australia’s Gold to Lose
No other team in the Commonwealth can put together four solid legs like the Australians. If the Aussies may slip up, that could open the door for a team like Canada to step forward. But the Australians look too strong, led by backstroke gold medalist Kaylee McKeown, butterfly silver medalist Emma McKeon, and world champion Mollie O’Callaghan. Canada has backstroke silver medalist Kylie Masse and butterfly gold medalist Maggie MacNeil, but doesn’t have the breast and free legs to compete with Australia.
- 19:07 Men’s 200m IM final
- 19:14 Women’s 200m freestyle S14
- 19:22 Men’s 200m freestyle S14
- 19:45 Men’s 50m freestyle final
- 19:51 Women’s 50m backstroke final
- 20:12 Men’s 1500m freestyle final
- 20:48 Women’s 400m freestyle final
- 20:58 Men’s 4x100m medley relay final
- 21:08 Women’s 4x100m medley relay final