Kyle Chalmers looks in ominous form as he came to Australia’s rescue in the heats of the 4x100m freestyle relay.
The men will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of their female counterparts, who smashed the competition to win the Aussies’ first gold medal in Tokyo, when they hit the pool for the final today.
Chalmers anchored the relay and did his job in a blistering 46.63 seconds to help his team recover from a shaky start and qualify third fastest for the final, behind America and Italy. It was one of the 10 fastest splits in history and smoked the individual 100m world record of 46.91 seconds.
But it will mean nothing if Australia can’t hit new heights in the final.
The boys in green and gold will need to work on their sluggish start to avoid putting the pressure on Chalmers to deliver a miracle in their pursuit of a medal. But the way he powered through the water had everyone taking notice.
Meanwhile, the stage is set for a blockbuster showdown between 400m freestyle superstars Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky. World record holder and reigning Olympic champion Ledecky, from America, qualified fastest ahead of Aussie young gun Titmus, who cruised through her heat.
The battle between two of the most talented swimmers in the world will be must-watch viewing today.
“I felt really good, probably the most relaxed I’ve actually felt in a while,” Titmus said. “I felt like tonight was really about trying to conserve your emotions for tomorrow morning, so I’m happy to be in one of the middle lanes in the morning.
“I’d like to think I’ve got a bit more on the tank for the final. I’m relieved it’s finally here and I know that I’ve done the work.”
Elsewhere the Olympic record for the women’s 100m backstroke was broken three times in five minutes as Australia’s Kaylee McKeown sent a warning to her rivals.
Canada’s Kyle Masse broke the record in Heat 4 with a rapid 58.17s, but that lasted about two minutes before US star Regan Smith beat that mark in the very next heat, touching the wall in 57.96s.
But the best was yet to come. McKeown broke the Olympic record once again in Heat 6 to set the fastest time of the night in 57.88s.
McKeown and Emily Seebohm both qualified for the semi-finals, which take place tomorrow morning.
With Nic Savage