WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
October 9, 2010
With a mix of veteran and up-and-coming swimmers, Australia walked away from the 19th Commonwealth Games as the most dominant country in swimming in Delhi, India.
During the six-day meet that ended on Saturday, Australia won 53 medals in swimming–21 gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze and have 116 overall.
Aussies Alicia Coutts won the most gold medals with five and teammate Emily Seebohm won the most medals with eight.
Aussie Leisel Jones rewrote the history books by becoming the first triple double winner in Games history, successfully defending her titles in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events for the third consecutive Games.
On Saturday, she won her tenth Commonwealth Games gold medal to equal Susie O’Neill and Ian Thorpe of Australia for the most career titles by an individual swimmer in Games history.
Fifteen-year-old Yolane Kujla of Australia showed she will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2012 Olympics after winning the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle in her debut.
The Aussie men’s team was led by comeback swimmer of the year, Geoff Huegill, who came out of retirement, overcame depression and weight problems, to return to the medal podium at age 31. He took gold in the 100 butterfly with a meet record and silver in the 50 butterfly.
England, expected to rise to the occasion but stricken with Delhi Belly, walked away with seven gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze medals. Veteran Rebecca Adlington led England by winning the 400 and 800-meter freestyle events.
South Africa was the surprise country with its third place medal haul of seven gold, four silver and five bronze. South African Chad Le Clos was the most successful male swimmer with two gold, one silver and one bronze medals.
Twenty-four meet records were broken, mostly by Aussies.
In Saturday championship events at the Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex in Talkatore Gardens:
Scotland’s Hannah Miley won the women’s 400-meter individual medley in a meet record 4:38.83 to give Scotland its second gold medal of the Games.
Miley, 21, was the favorite after Aussie three-time Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice was forced to skip the Games because of shoulder surgery.
Aussie Samantha Hamill took silver in 4:39.45 and England’s Keri-Anne Payne took bronze in 4:41.07.
Jessicah Schipper continued the Aussie streak with a victory in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:07.04. Canadian Audrey Lacroix was second in 2:07.31 and England’s Ellen Gandy was third in 2:07.75 just out-touching Aussie Samantha Hamill (2:07.84).
The Aussies finished the women’s competition with a victory in the 400-meter medley relay with Seebohm, Jones, Schipper and Coutts in 3:56.99. Seebohm broke the 100 backstroke meet record leading off in 59.53. England was second in 4:00.09 and Canada was third in 4:03.96.
Canadian Brent Hayden was the fastest man in the pool winning the 50-meter freestyle in a meet record 22.01 edging South African Roland Schoeman in 22.14. Hayden is only the second man in Games history to sweep the spring events. South African Gideon Louw took bronze in 22.22.
In the men’s 200-meter breaststroke final, Aussie Brenton Rickard out-touched Michael Jamieson of Scotland 2:10.89-2:10.97, both meet records. Aussie Christian Sprenger took bronze in 2:11.44.
Canadian Ryan Cochrane won his second gold medal in the 1500-meter freestyle in 15:01.49. He led wire-to-wire. South African Heerden Herman took silver in 15:03.70 and England’s Daniel Fogg took bronze in 15:13.50.
Cochrane and Hayden were part of Canada’s five-medal flourish on the final day to salvage a disappointing Games. Canada won just ten overall medals (five golds, one silver and four bronze).
The Aussie men ended the meet the same way the women did with a win in the 400-yard medley relay with Ashley Delaney, Rickard, Huegill and Eamon Sullivan in a meet record 3:33.15. South Africa was second in 3:36.12 and England’s Liam Tancock was third in 3:36.31.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be hosted by Glasgow, Scotland, July 23-Aug. 3. The XIX Delhi Games end Oct. 14. The four-day diving competition led by Brit Tom Daley begins on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org