Australia officially have their mojo back after notching 10 gold, eight silver and eight bronze at the Pan Pacific swimming championships.
At the completion of the four-day meet they trailed only the world No.1 US (14 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze) – a team that boasts Olympic great Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky – who broke the women’s 1500m freestyle world record on Sunday night.
Cate Campbell became Australia’s first 50m Pan Pacs champion by clocking a meet record 23.96 on Sunday – equalling the world’s fastest time of 2014 – to claim gold ahead of sister Bronte (24.56).
Cate then combined with Lorna Tonks, Emily Seebohm and Alicia Coutts to seal Australia’s 4x100m medley relay win (3:55.49) over Olympic champions the United States.
But it was perhaps Cameron McEvoy who typified Australia’s changing fortunes in the pool best.
After the London Olympic disaster which yielded one swimming gold, McEvoy was revealed as part of the “Stilnox Six” following the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay squad’s infamous pre-2012 Games bonding session.
Two years later he is Australia’s poster boy after taking 100m freestyle gold before anchoring the 4x100m relay team’s upset over the US on Saturday night.
It ensured Australia’s men’s and women’s sprint relay teams downed their US counterparts at the same meet for the first time in 12 years.
But McEvoy said the team still needed to keep things in check.
“We have to stay grounded and look forward because at the European titles (this month) we would have come fourth (in the 4x100m relay),” he said on Sunday.
“But it’s always good to get one up on the Americans like that.”
With McEvoy’s feats, Thomas Fraser-Holmes now the 200m freestyle world No.1 and Mack Horton a long distance prodigy the Australian men’s team – which had failed to claim an individual gold at the last two Olympics – is definitely on the rise.
The women meanwhile have world 100m champion Cate Campbell plus sister Bronte set to dominate the freestyle sprints, youngster Taylor McKeown ready to take up Leisel Jones’ breaststroke mantle while Seebohm landed a psychological blow on backstroke queen Franklin.
Australia topped the Glasgow Commonwealth Games pool tally with 57 medals (19 gold) but the US were expected to provide a sobering yardstick.
However they kept the Americans honest, the Australians easily eclipsing their last Pan Pacs tally of four gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze in 2010.
In other results, Australia’s Mitch Larkin, Jake Packard, Tommaso D’Orsogna and McEvoy took 4x100m medley bronze (3:33.45) behind the US (3:29.94).
American Maya Dirado (2:09.93) won the 200m IM ahead of Australian Coutts (2nd; 2:10.25).
Canada’s Ryan Cochrane (7:45.39) won the 800m freestyle ahead of Australia’s Horton (7:47.73).
In the women’s 200m breaststroke Australia’s McKeown claimed bronze (2:22.89) behind Japan’s Kanako Watanabe (2:21.41).
Brazil’s Bruno Fratus (21.44 meet record) claimed the 50m freestyle ahead of Australia’s Cameron McEvoy (4th; 22.07).
Japan’s Yasuhir Koseki won the 200m breaststroke (2:08.57).