Tokyo 2020, Oceania Day 8: Aussies Tie 08 Medal Haul, Match Single Games Record


Australia has long been one of the most successful swimming nations in the world but has gained a bit of a reputation for not performing well at the Olympic Games. The trend showed up at the last 2 editions of the Games when they came away with 10 medals, only one of which was gold, in 2012, and won only 10 again in 2016. After an electric Australian Olympic Trials in June and the perfectly timed breakout of young gun Kaylee McKeown and veteran Emma McKeon, Australia seemed ready to perform.

The Australians showed up in full force in Tokyo and arguably exceeded many people’s expectations. Over the 8 days of racing at the highest level of swimming, the team came away with a total of 20 medals which makes Tokyo 2020 their 2nd best performance at a single Olympic Games medal count-wise. One could argue, however, that it was slightly more impressive when they won 20 medals back in 2008 considering that there were 4 fewer events at the meet. The team earned a higher number of gold medals, however as they collected 9 golds in Tokyo compared to the 6 that they picked up back in 2008.

The women’s team outperformed the men in Tokyo as they collectively amassed 13 medals compared to the men’s 6.

Australian Swimming Medal – Tokyo 2020




  • Bronze: 4×100 medley

Emma McKeon was the star of the show for Australia as she reached the podium in all 3 of her individual events and contributed to 4 podium finishes in her 4 relay swims. In addition to the hardware she collected, she brought her career Olympic medal total to 11, becoming Australia’s most decorated Olympian in history. Ariarne Titmus was another major player for the country in Tokyo as she pulled off 2 gold medal swims in the 200 and 400 freestyle, defeating reigning champion Katie Ledecky in both. She added another 2 medals with her silver medal swim in the 800 free and contributed to the team’s 4×200 bronze.

Kaylee McKeown became the first Australian woman to win the 200 backstroke at an Olympic Games, hitting a 2:04.68 for gold. That was actually McKeown’s second gold of the medal, following her 100 backstroke victory in which she posted a 57.47 which is the second-fastest performance in the history of the event (to her own 57.45 world record). Veterans Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm proved their longevity at their 4th straight Olympic Games by winning respective bronze medals in the 100 freestyle and 200 backstrokes.

While their medal count was fewer than the women’s, the Australian men delivered some pivotal swims of their own. Zac Stubblety-Cook came in as a late addition to the absolute loaded 200 breaststroke field and managed to race his way to the top, hitting a 2:06.38 Olympic record for gold. Kyle Chalmers did his very best to repeat as 100 freestyle champion but couldn’t quite chase down Caeleb Dressel and settled for silver by just 0.06 seconds. Rounding out the individual medal haul for the men, Jack McLoughlin and Brendon Smith took 400 free silver and 400 IM bronze, respectively.

Oceania Day 5 Quick Hits

  • Emma McKeon was the only individual medalist for Australia during the final night of racing. She hit a 23.81 to win gold in the 50 free while Cate Campbell hit a 24.36 for 7th place.
  • The Australian women took gold in the women’s 4×100 medley relay to mark their 9th swimming gold medal of the Games while the men’s contingent placed 5th overall in the final.

Continental & National Records Through Day 5

  • 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.
  • Ariarne Titmus‘ 1:53.50 gold medal time in the women’s 200 freestyle was a new Olympic record, improving upon Allison Schmitt‘s 1:53.61 from 2012. She got within half a second of her own Australian record in the event of 1:53.09.
  • McKeon clocked 52.11 for a new Olympic Record in the women’s 100 free prelims.
  • Zac Stubblety-Cook lowered the Olympic Record in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:06.38.
  • The team of Titmus, McKeon, Madi Wilson, and Leah Neale set a new Commonwealth, Oceanian and Australian Record in the 800 free relay in 7:41.29.
  • En route to Olympic gold Emma McKeon set a new Olympic, Commonwealth, and Oceanian, and Australian 100 freestyle record of 51.96.
  • Emma McKeon broke the Olympic record twice in 50 freestyle. She first hit a 24.02 in the prelims which she followed with a 24.00 for first place in the semis. She will have 1 more shot at getting under 24 seconds and she vies for gold.
  • As previously mentioned, McKeon also became the 4th Australian in history to win 5 medals at a single Olympics when she and her fellow Aussies took bronze in the 4×100 mixed medley relay. She could break the record and bring it to 7 if she makes it onto the podium in the 50 free and women’s 4×100 medley on the final day of the meet. In terms of career Olympic medals, her 4 from Rio and 5 in Tokyo bring her to 9 medals total to tie Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones as most decorated Australian Olympian.
  • Ariarne Titmus‘ silver medal swim in the 800 freestyle marked a new Oceanian, Commonwealth, and Australian record of 8:13.83 to improve upon her former mark of 8:15.57.
  • Emma McKeon‘s 23.81 to win the women’s 100 freestyle marked a new Olympic record, improving upon her 24.00 swim from semi-finals.
  • McKeon got a second Olympic record in one session as she, Kaylee McKeown, Cate Campbell, and Chelsea Hodges produced a 3:51.60 in the 4×100 medley to get under the USA’s 3:52.05 mark in 2012.

Medals Table for Oceania Through Day 5

Australia 9 3 8 20

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

I promise you not a single Australian looks at this Olympics as “tying the 2008 medal haul”. We look at it as our most golds ever and overall most successful Olympics ever.

This result was well above what most Australians ever dreamed of even after our amazing trials. Could not be prouder of this team.

Also you’re missing Emma’s OR from the 50 final. Looks like a few of those dot points have been copy/pasted and not updated.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sub13
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Beyond this very excited to see how well Mollie O’Callaghan & Meg Harris can improve.

Reply to  Robbos
1 month ago

lets also not forget that Mollie swum 58.86 in the 100 back at trials too

Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Not only that but we do not think like “oh we performed bad in Rio I wonder if this is going to happen again?” at all. Rio was Rio and that’s in the past and it is not constantly in our psyche.

I think cleaning up the culture is the biggest change they have done in the past few years. It is one swim team now and everyone supports each other.

Reply to  koala
1 month ago

Absolutely. We had been going so well right up until the 4×200 and I was worried that was going to really shake Arnie and Emma who still had individual swims to go, and could really put pressure on everyone. But they backed that up with another individual silver and two golds! Really a testament to a change in culture.

Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

The selectors / relay coaches need to fix that 4×200 dilemma .. next time don’t go in thinking it’s a sure fire gold with Arnie in the team .. every single cog needs to perform .. and by and large Leah Neale was untested and should have been swum in heats along with Madi Wilson and Mollie and Meg H

Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Noted…about a million times.

Reply to  torchbearer
1 month ago

But has it been noted by the coaches? They were so defensive about their choices to the media. :/

Reply to  torchbearer
1 month ago

Yeah if the coaches are deaf or have selective hearing then even 10 million times won’t work .. expect China and USA to keep finishing ahead

Philip Johnson
1 month ago

American men won 47% of available medals in the pool for the men (not counting the mixed relays). This was by far the most of any nation.

By contrast, American women 17.6%. They were behind the Australia women where they won 47% of available medals in the pool.

Interesting the American men where just as dominate as the Australian women (each winning 8 gold medals).

Looks like American and Australians have opposite problems. Whereas the American women were not as dominate as the men, the Australian men were not as dominate as the Australian women.

-I have no thesis, just thought it was interesting.

1 month ago

Australia only had 34 pool swimmers

Reply to  Joel
1 month ago

So can we say having very tough Olympic cut times (much harder than Fina A cut times) helped us put together a smaller but meaner team?

Miss M
Reply to  Joel
1 month ago


1 month ago

Even with new events added how much did they actually contribute to Australia’s Tokyo tally ? Maybe just 1 (mixed medley).. they won medals in pretty much established events that were there back in 2008 .. and if we’re talking about gold medals then Tokyo exceeds Beijing

Also Zac SC was not a last minute addition to the team .. that was Matthew Wilson

Zac won his place in the team fair and square by winning Trials

Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Correct, we got one bronze in mixed medley. Despite not medaling in the MMR, USA got the most benefit from the new events with 2 golds and a silver.

Also re Zac, I don’t think they meant he was a late addition to the team. I thought they were just saying that he was a late addition to the field because his almost WR at trials almost came out of nowhere. But I could be wrong.

M d e
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

His almost WR at trials wasn’t a surprise at all to people who had been paying attention to the domestic swimming scene.

He has been a consistent world level finalist for years now, was on an upward trajectory, and had gone 2:07.00 at a meet he had no reason to be tested for.

Last edited 1 month ago by M d e
Reply to  M d e
1 month ago

Yeah, Zac got 4th at 2019 Worlds. Anyone who thinks he came out of the clouds shows that their eyes never scrolled down past the third place finisher.

1 month ago

The American women are a lot stronger than their gold medal haul indicates (you can see it in the number of silver and bronze they won) so maintaining this level of success is going to be very hard going forward. What we really need is for the men’s team to step up so that the team isn’t so imbalanced.

1 month ago

The Australians finally did what they were supposed to do.
There’s many comments that they”overperformed”
In fact,they performed based on form,ranking and times.
If you include the Mens 400m and Womens 4 x 200,then you could say ,Australia underperformed.
Lets not even forget the best women’s 200/400m IMer didnt even enter.
(If Kaylee was American,I would have no doubt,she wouldve swum both IM’s.)

I would even argue that the Americans overperformed, especially if you take RobertFinke into account with his 800/1500 Free double.

But,then,that the Olympics.The US rise to the occasion,and perform as expected.
Finally,Australia have done the same!

Dont get me wrong,I am an Australian and highly proud how this team put it… Read more »

Reply to  Dan
1 month ago

Pretty sure they wouldn’t get a first time Olympian do 4 individual events plus relays. Even Phelps didn’t do that. Or Thorpe. Or Hackett