Tokyo 2020, Oceania Day 3: Australian Momentum Keeps Medal Table Hopes Alive


Just as Ariarne Titmus did on day 2 of the Tokyo 2020 Games, Kaylee McKeown led the way for Oceanians on day 3 of the Olympics.

Kaylee McKeown swam her way to a gold medal Olympics at her first-ever Games, topping the podium in the women’s 100 backstroke with a 57.47 Olympic record. That time for McKeown is only 2 seconds slower than the 57.45 world record she produced earlier in 2021 at Olympic Trials.

This medal for Australia is the 4th one that the country has won in just 3 days. On day 1 the Australian women won gold in the 4×100 freestyle and Emma McKeon took bronze in the 100 fly and then on day 2 Ariarne Titmus took gold for herself in the women’s 400 free.

Should they keep this pace, Australia is easily on track to beat their 10-medal total from both Rio 2016 and London 2012. They’ve actually already surpassed their gold medal count from back in 2012 where they only managed to pick up 1 victory.

Upon the completion of day 3 finals, Australia is actually tied with the US in terms of gold medals but is second overall due to the lower silver and bronze medal count:

Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 3 3 6 12
Australia 3 1 3 7

In light of McKeown’s gold medal swim and the momentum that Australia is likely to be feeling right now, we are wondering if it’s possible for the country to catch, or even pass the USA on the medal table. It would certainly take the perfect storm of Australian swimming to acheive the feat but the country actually quite a number of medal opportunities over the next few days which include a number of events where the USA could miss the podium altogether.

The scenario begins with Ariarne Titmus taking gold in the 200 free, Kyle Chalmers winning gold in the men’s 100 freestyle, relgating Dressel to silver and Kaylee McKeown taking gold in the 200 backstroke. Not a sure bet, but certainly within reach.

Next, let’s say Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon reach the podium in both the 50 and 100 free, if Zac Stubblety-Cook and Matt Wilson make the podium in the 200 breast, Mitch Larkin tops the podium in the 200 IM, and Jack McLoughlin finishes top 3 in the 800 and 1500 free. If Australia collects all 9 of those medals and the USA doesn’t reach the podium in any of them (which seems unlikely, but possible), Australia could begin closing the gap.

Another spot where the Australian could continue to make up ground is in the 2 remaining distance events. While Katie Ledecky is a lock for a podium finish, Ariarne Titmus has proven that she can beat Ledecky, but the question reamains: can she do it again? If Titmus and Ledecky go 1-2 in the 800 free and then Maddy Gough joins Ledecky on the 1500 free podium, there would essentially be no change in the relative positions of the Americans and Australias to each other on the medal table.

The final push for the Australians will need to come from a few surprises. If the aformentioned Australians do what they need to do and close the gap a little bit, a number of swimmers remain on reserve. Namely Matthew Temple (100 fly), Jenna Strauch (200 breast), and Tristan Hollard (200 back).

That’s a lot of things that need to go right for Australia and a lot of things that need to go not accordingly to plan for the USA but the first 3 days of Tokyo 2020 have shown us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Quick Hits

  • Ariarne Titmus continued her freestyle dominance with a 200 freestyle semi-final victory. Titmus was a 1:54.82 in the semi to out-swim Siobhan Haughey (1:55.16) and Katie Ledecky (1:55.34) to advance first into finals.
  • While McKeown won the only medal for Australia on day 3 of the meet, she was joined in her 100 backstrok final by vet Emily Seebohm. At her 4th straight Olympic Games, Seebohm notched a 5th place finish in the event with a 58.45.
  • Mitch Larkin swam his first individual final of the meet in the 100 backstroke, placing 7th overall in the 52.79. Larkin swam the 100 backstroke despite having dropped the 200 back to focus on the IM.

Continental & National Records Through Day 2

  • Lewis Clareburt set a new Oceania and New Zealand record of 4:09.49 during heat 3 of the men’s 400 IM prelims.
  • Right after Clareburt’s swim Australian, Brendon Smith took the Oceanic record from Clareburt with a 4:09.27 in heat 4. That left Clareburt with the New Zealand record and gave Smith the Australian and Oceanic marks.
  • Emma McKeon swam her way to a 55.82 Australian, Oceanic, and Commonwealth record during the prelims of the event. She then lowered the Australian and Oceanian records to a 55.72 during the final which was good enough for bronze.
  • During the final race of the night, the Australian women become the first-ever nation to get under 3:30 in the 4×100 free with their world record-breaking 3:29.69.
  • Ariarne Titmus secured a new Australian, Oceanian, and Commonwealth record during the women’s 400 freestyle with her 3:56.69 for gold.
  • Kaylee McKeown hit a 57.88 Olympic record during the women’s 100 backstroke prelims which was broken by Regan Smith 1 heat earlier (57.96) who took it from Kylie Masse 1 heat earlier (58.17). The record was previously held by Emily Seebohm at a 58.23 from 2012. Regan Smith took the record back with a 57.68 during semi-finals until McKeown brought it down to a 57.47 (just 0.02 off her own world record) in the final.

Medals Table for Oceania Through Day 2

Australia 7 3 1 3

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