Australia's men's 4x100 metre freestyle relay team has won its first gold medal since the 2011 world championship when blistering legs by James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy overhauled South Africa in the final at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on Friday night.
Relay coach Brant Best made a surprise move of placing Magnussen, who has usually either led-off or anchored the races, as the third swimmer and the moved proved decisive as he hauled in a 0.74 second gap which allowed national champion McEvoy to power the team to victory, touching in three minutes 13.44 seconds, with South Africa finishing second in 3:15.17.
With the South Africans front-loading their relay with faster swimmers, McEvoy said he just needed to keep his nerve to put the squad in a winning position.
"I definitely dove in with the blindfolds on so I couldn't see anyone else," McEvoy said. "The whole lap actually I was breathing away from the South Africans so I couldn't even tell where I was at the 50 metre turn and that's the way I race normally anyway so overall I think the team did it great to put it all together and win."
Australia surprised the swimming world in 2011 when Magnussen produced a stunning lead-off swim to guide them to the world title. The team however flopped at the London Olympics, finishing fourth and again finished out of the medals at last year's world titles.
"It always feels a little a bit more special sharing a moment with other guys so I always enjoy the relay," Magnussen said. "It's a bit like deja vu for me, four years ago in Delhi I swam my first relay and got a gold. It was fun."
Meanwhile, a shattered 100m breaststroke world champion Christian Sprenger is contemplating time out of the pool, not only to help heal an injured shoulder but to find some answers to his sudden lack of form and confidence after he failed to make the final of his pet event.
Sprenger spoke of his troubles with his stroke and shoulder pains, which he thinks could be caused by a torn muscle, after his poor morning heat swim. He said he had not found any answers in an equally troubling semi-final time of 1.01.73, substantially slower than his times at the national titles in April.
"I was very close to coming to terms with what was about to happen and as much as I was as positive as possible, and as confident as possible, I was defeated I think before I got on the blocks and that not usually like me," Sprenger said. "I'm usually a fighter but unfortunately, in this instance my body has just decided it's not the right time."
"I need to just see this meet out and separate myself from the pool and just take my mind off swimming just for one second. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform here and that may have been a problem.
However, he said he would definitely drop his less favoured 200m breaststroke, in which he finished eighth in the opening night final.
"It's just not worth it and I should have been smart enough to realise that at trials," he said. "I'd rather have one gold medal around my neck than go for four. What's the point?"
In other races, Mitch Larkin won silver and Joshua Beaver, who tied for third, won a bronze in the 100 backstroke.