By Sharon Robb
MELBOURNE, Australia, December 18, 2022—A world record dead heat between the U.S. and Australia closed out a wild final night at the 16th FINA Short Course World Championships Sunday at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre.
In an exciting men’s 4×100-meter medley relay the U.S. (Ryan Murphy, Nic Fink, Trenton Julian and Kieran Smith) and Australia (Isaac Cooper, Joshua Yong, Matthew Temple, Kyle Chalmers) finished in a world record 3:18.98, bettering the 13-year-old record set by Russia.
Six days of competition produced 14 world short course records with swimmers earning $25,000 in bonus money for world records. There were also six world junior records and 23 championship records broken.
More than 560 athletes from 160 countries competed in 48 events, including the debut of the women’s 1500 freestyle and men’s 800 freestyle with an overall prize purse of $2.54 million on the line.
The U.S. won the most medals with 36 (17 gold, 13 silver, 6 bronze) followed by Australia with 26 and Italy with 16.
Bolles alum Ryan Murphy became the first man or woman swimmer to win three backstroke gold medals. After winning the 50 and 100, Murphy won the 200 backstroke on Sunday in 1:47.41.
“I like the 50 and 100 a lot better than the 200,” Murphy said. “When I got the invite, I wasn’t sure I was going to come. I had taken a lot of time off this summer, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be ready for this. To finish on a high like that setting a world record, even in a tie, having the Australian crowd go nuts, that was cool.
With wins in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke Murphy earned the best male award. Murphy’s three individual wins and two relay medals, including the world record-setting gold in the relay, helped push the USA to the top team award.
“My goal coming in was to add as many medals to Team USA as possible. We did that tonight and we added a World Record, too,” Murphy said. “Swimming is a sport where you get so few opportunities to race, and I really want to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Also Sunday, the U.S. picked up individual medals from Nic Fink (gold, 50 breaststroke), Torri Huske (silver, 100 butterfly), Claire Curzan (silver, 200 back) and Lilly King (bronze, 50 breast).
Canadian Maggie MacNeil broke her second world record of the meet winning the 100-meter butterfly in 54.05. With three individual wins and two world records, MacNeil took won the event’s top women’s honors.
“Seeing so many records get broken and amazing swims this week, I am so honored, honestly, to be the swimmer of the meet,” MacNeil said. “It means the world to me to finish 2022 off on such a high note. Unbelievable, I never thought I would get one, let alone two, world records.”
South African Chad le Clos won his second gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly in 48.59.
After breaking SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson world record in the 50 breaststroke semifinals in 28.37, Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte went on to win gold in 28.50.
Aussie Kaylee McKeown won the 200 backstroke in 1:59.26 ahead of American Claire Curzan in 2:00.53. Hong Kong world record holder Siobhan Haughey won the 200 freestyle in 1:51.65. South Korea’s Sunwoo Hwang, despite a broken finger, won the men’s 200 freestyle in a championship record 1:39.72.
The U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay of Claire Curzan, Lilly King, Torri Huske and Kate Douglass won in 3:44.35 just ahead of the Aussies in 3:44.92.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org