Britain enjoyed a one-two finish on Tuesday in the men’s 200-meter freestyle, while Russian swimmers ended U.S. dominance in the 100-meter backstroke and Kaylee McKeown gave Australia’s women more Olympic gold to celebrate at the Tokyo pool.
Tom Dean won gold and teammate Duncan Scott took the silver in the 200-meter freestyle as the two British swimmers left their rivals in their wake, Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer won the bronze.
It was Britain’s second swimming gold following Adam Peaty’s victory in the 100-meter breaststroke on Monday.
“It’s amazing,” said Dean, reflecting on his journey to becoming Olympic champion. “It’s a dream come true having a gold around my neck. … I contracted COVID twice in the last 12 months … sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold was a million miles away.”
It was the first time since 1908 that two male British swimmers have finished on the Olympic podium together.
Scott had gone into the race as the slightly faster swimmer and narrowly favored for gold, but the blow of missing out was softened by his teammate’s joy.
“Just a massive credit to Tom Dean. That was unbelievable. Olympic champion,” he said. “To come along so far in the last 18 months, it’s a pleasure to watch him. It’s great to be able to say he’s a good mate out of the pool.”
In the men’s 100 backstroke, an event won by U.S. swimmers at the last six Games, Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov took top spots on the podium with Rio champion Ryan Murphy of the United States coming in third.
Russian men had not won a swimming gold since 1996 when Alexander Popov and Denis Pankratov both topped the podium twice.
Rylov and Kolesnikov were competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee as part of sanctions imposed for several doping scandals.
Australia’s McKeown delivered a stunning victory in the women’s 100 backstroke as well as the team took gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay.
The 20-year-old McKeown’s time was just two hundredths of a second shy of the world record she set in the Australian trials in June.
McKeown would almost certainly not have been able to compete at Tokyo if the Games had been held on schedule last year with her father struggling with brain cancer. He died in August.
McKeown forms part of an impressive generation of Australian women swimmers and the latest to see her golden goal come true.
“I’m just thankful I have a good support team. A few people before the race came up and said to just have all the faith in the world that you have got this.”
In another race that went down to the wire, Lydia Jacoby of the United States won gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, the 17-year-old Alaskan finishing in 1:04.95, 0.27 seconds ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa.
Jacoby’s teammate Lilly King, who won the event in Rio in 2016, took the bronze.
Jacoby is the first Alaskan to represent the U.S. swim team and said she was stunned when she saw the scoreboard.
“I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me. I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal,” she said. “When I looked up and saw that scoreboard, it was insane.”