TOKYO—Britain enjoyed a one-two success in the men’s 200m freestyle on Tuesday, while Russian swimmers ended U.S. dominance in the 100m backstroke, and Kaylee McKeown gave Australia’s women more Olympic gold to celebrate at the Tokyo pool. On the same day, Alaskan teenager Lydia Jacoby upstaged her 2016 Olympic champion teammate Lily King to win a surprise gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
Tom Dean won gold and team mate Duncan Scott the silver in the 200 freestyle as the two British swimmers left their rivals in their wake, Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer taking the bronze.
It was Britain’s second swimming gold following Adam Peaty’s victory in the 100m breaststroke on Monday and left Dean reflecting on the adversity he has faced on his journey to gold.
“It’s amazing. 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,” he said.
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 third.
Russian men had not won a swimming gold since 1996 when Alexander Popov and Denis Pankratov both topped the podium twice.
McKeown delivered a stunning late fightback in the women’s 100 backstroke to pip Canada’s Kylie Masse and add to Ariarne Titmus’s gold in the 400m free on Monday as well as the team 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.
“It’s not necessarily what I have been through, everyone has their own journey. It just so happens I have had a tough time,” she said when asked about her preparations.
In another race that went down to the wire—Lydia Jacoby of the United States won gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke, the 17-year-old Alaskan finishing in 1:04.95, 0.27 seconds ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa.
Jacoby’s team mate Lilly King, who won the event in Rio in 2016, took the bronze.
By Simon Evans