Australia’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team look sure to complete a golden hat-trick, and maybe smash their world record, when the first swimming medals of the Tokyo Olympics are handed out on Sunday.
In what could be a bountiful day for The Dolphins, Elijah Winnington will also seek to live up to his surname in the men’s 400m free, even if Germany’s Henning Muhlleitner qualified fastest.
Australian Brendon Smith is also a strong contender after qualifying fastest for the men’s 400 individual medley, the first of the medal events.
The women’s relay team, winners in 2012 and 2016, were dominant on Saturday and inside the world record after the first two legs.
With what amounted to a B team, they still set the 10th fastest time in history and the return of their two top swimmers — Cate Campbell and
Emma McKeon — for the final makes their 2018 record look vulnerable.
Hungary’s world record holder Katinka Hosszu has her work cut out to defend her 400m individual medley gold after qualifying only seventh fastest.
Emma Weyant of the United States was the top qualifier in that event with the fastest time in the world this year.
Meanwhile, Adam Peaty said he was just shaking off the cobwebs, and felt weird without fans watching, but he still won his Olympic 100m breaststroke heat on Saturday with a time faster than any other man has ever swum.
The world and Olympic champion’s time of 57.56 seconds, while way off his world record 56.88, meant he now has the top 16 fastest swims of all time in the event — and he has yet to shave his moustache.
The only other man to have broken the 58 seconds barrier is Dutch rival Arno Kamminga, second fastest on Saturday with a career best 57.80.
It is a measure of Peaty’s dominance and status as an absolute gold medal certainty that it was almost alarming that he was not further ahead than the 0.24 that separated him from Kamminga.
There is however, no doubt that Britain’s best bet for gold has a lot more in the tank.
“Heats are heats. I always have cobwebs — it’s pretty much the exact same time I did in Rio — and I always build on that. We will just see where we go from here,” said Peaty, who is unbeaten over the distance since 2014.
“It is weird with no crowd. Really weird. But those are the psychological things we have to adapt to. I’m glad the cobwebs are out now.”
To put his performance into perspective, the world record before the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games was 57.92 — a mark also held by Peaty at the time.
He smashed that twice in Brazil, starting with a 57.55 in the heats — just 0.01 quicker than Saturday — and then a 57.13 in the final.
It would be no surprise if the Briton manages something truly phenomenal by the time the medals are handed out in Tokyo.
“It was a bit shaky off the start for some reason, I was gripping it a bit too hard,” said Peaty.
“There are a lot of variables when it comes to the Olympics, and it is about trying to control as many as you can. But some you can’t control.
“It was very hot, but that is how we adapt into the semis and that is how we adapt into the final.”
Kamminga said he knew he was in good shape and was ready to go faster.
“It felt really strong and in control. Let’s see if I can chip away some more,” he said.