GLASGOW (Reuters) - It was a world record that few expected to be broken any time soon.
Even the Australians themselves could not quite believe it, with Melanie Schlanger the only swimmer to recognize the significance of their collective efforts at the Tollcross Swimming Centre at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“World record,” she exclaimed as she looked at the screen after world 100 freestyle champion Cate Campbell touched to stop the clock at three minutes, 30.98 seconds, eclipsing the 3:31.72 set by a flying Netherlands team five years earlier.
The record by that Dutch team had been set in the madness that surrounded the 2009 world swimming championships in Rome, when 43 world marks were shattered - many aided by the use of polyurethane bodysuits that have since been outlawed.
“Not only a world record, but a supersuits world record,” Cate Campbell told the Sydney Morning Herald after she anchored the team of younger sister Bronte, Schlanger and Emma McKeon to gold.
“This is the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s incredible.
“When we saw that world record set in 2009 we thought, ‘well that’s it for the next 10 years and this is beyond incredible.”
Of the 43 records set at the Foro Italico in Rome, 21 still remain on the books.
“A world record in itself is a milestone but a supersuit world record is something that’s incredibly special,” Campbell added.
“It was pandemonium in 2009 with those world records going. To finally get one up on those suits is a massive achievement,”
“I think now they’ve been taken away, we realized how much of a difference they made. They didn’t swim the race for you but jeez they made a difference in the last 25m when it really hurts. It was a gutsy performance for all the girls.”
Suits or not, the fact the Australians snatched the country’s first world record since 2009 should not have come as too much of a surprise.
The Australians are the Olympic champions, with Cate Campbell and Schlanger veterans of the quartet that captured the only gold by the country in the London pool.
All four members of the team that swam the final are also ranked in the top-nine for the 100 freestyle this year.
“It wasn’t something we spoke of at any point but I think we had an inkling that we had a chance,” Schlanger told the newspaper about their feelings before the final.
“It’s pretty cool. Australia used to break them (world records) all the time and it wasn’t a big deal.
“To be part of something that’s brought that legacy back, it’s pretty exciting.”
Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Patrick Johnston