Powerhouse U.S. swim team shines with 6 medals, 1st gold

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TOKYO — Chase Kalisz got things rolling, claiming the archetypal U.S. golden astatine the Olympic pool.

By the clip the greeting was done, the powerhouse squad had a full clump of medals.

Six of them successful all, rather a commencement Sunday for the Americans successful the post-Michael Phelps era.

“I’m blessed to beryllium present and footwear the U.S. off,” said Kalisz, who won the 400-meter idiosyncratic medley.

There was country for others to shine, arsenic well.

Host Japan won a swimming gold, Tunisia claimed a astonishing spot atop the medal podium, and the mighty Australian women acceptable the archetypal satellite grounds of the contention successful the 4×100 freestyle relay.

The Americans surely had nary complaints astir their opening-day performance. In Phelps record-setting career, which encompassed 5 Summer Games, they ne'er won six medals successful the archetypal league of finals.

“A beauteous bully commencement for the U.S.,” said Kieran Smith, who successful his archetypal large planetary conscionable snagged a bronze successful the men’s 400 freestyle. “We executed today. I’m truly arrogant of us.”

The Aussies, who anticipation to situation America’s dominance successful the pool, picked up 3 medals Sunday.

The escaped relay was ne'er successful doubt, not with a dynamic quartet that included sisters Bronte and Cate Campbell swimming the leadoff and anchor legs, respectively, joined by Meg Harris and Emma McKeon.

McKeon blew distant the tract connected the 3rd limb and Cate Campbell touched successful 3 minutes, 29.69 seconds. At the medal ceremony, the sisters touchingly draped their medals astir each other’s neck.

The metallic went to Canada successful 3:32.78, portion the Americans capped their greeting with 1 much medal to surpass their champion first-day haul from the Phelps epoch (five successful some 2004 and 2008).

With Simone Manuel anchoring the relay, they touched conscionable down their rivals to the northbound successful 3:32.81.

Kalisz was the archetypal U.S. medal victor of the Tokyo Games, and Jay Litherland — who was calved successful Osaka — made it a 1-2 finish for the Americans by rallying connected the freestyle limb to assertion the silver. Brendon Smith of Australia earned the bronze.

In the 400 free, 18-year-old Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui was the stunning victor from lane eight, his victory punctuated with large screams that could beryllium heard passim the mostly bare arena.

“I was amazed with myself,” said Hafnaoui, who joined Ous Mellouli arsenic a golden medalist from the northbound African country. “I couldn’t judge it until I touched the partition and saw the 1 (on the scoreboard).”

Hafnaoui finished successful 3:43.26, followed by Australia’s Jack McLoughlin and Kieran Smith. The apical 3 were separated by little than a 2nd aft 8 laps of the pool.

The U.S. women did their part, too.

Japan’s Yui Ohashi won golden successful the women’s 400 IM with an electrical breaststroke leg, but 2 Americans were close successful her wake. Emma Weyant earned the silver, portion the bronze went to Hali Flickinger.

“After we saw (Kalisz and Litherland spell 1-2), we benignant of looked astatine each different and said, ‘It’s our turn,’” Weyant said. “I deliberation that truly got our squad going.””

Kalisz, a protégé and erstwhile grooming spouse of Phelps, touched archetypal successful 4:09.42. Litherland was adjacent successful 4:10.28, conscionable one-10th of a 2nd up of Brendon Smith.

Kalisz flexed his muscles and past climbed atop the lane rope, splashing the h2o portion a contingent of his teammates cheered him from the stands astatine the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

“U-S-A! U-S-A!” they chanted.

Kalisz was the metallic medalist successful the grueling lawsuit astatine the Rio Games 5 years ago. Now, astatine property 27, he’s the champion successful the satellite astatine utilizing each 4 strokes.

“That 1 was the astir peculiar benignant of pain,” Kalisz said. “I had vowed that I was going to marque that wounded arsenic overmuch arsenic imaginable and springiness my implicit champion to execute this.”

Litherland came implicit to springiness the victor a hug, having ensured the Americans got disconnected to the champion imaginable commencement astatine the pool.

“To travel backmost and bash this with Chase means a lot,” said Litherland, who finished 5th successful the 400 IM astatine Rio.

After putting connected their medals during a masked-up triumph ceremony, Kalisz and Litherland walked astir the platform arm-in-arm.

No societal distancing for them.

The Americans seized their accidental aft Japanese prima Daiya Seto stunningly failed to beforehand to the final, having finished ninth successful the preliminaries aft making a tactical mistake attempting to prevention his vigor for the medal race.

The finals were held successful the greeting Tokyo clip alternatively than their accustomed evening slot, a motion to U.S. tv web NBC, which wanted to amusement the finals unrecorded successful premier clip backmost successful America.

That was the aforesaid format utilized astatine the 2008 Beijing Games, wherever Phelps won a grounds 8 golden medals. He retired aft Rio, having captured 23 golden medals overall, but the Americans inactive person plentifulness of prima powerfulness for the post-Phelps era.

Ohashi helped to marque up for Seto’s flop successful the men’s IM. She pulled distant successful the bosom to triumph successful 4:32.08.

Weyant gave pursuit successful the freestyle limb but settled for metallic successful 4:32.76. Flickinger was 3rd successful 4:34.90, portion Hungarian large Katinka Hosszu, the defending champion, faded to fifth.

The lone radical successful the stands of the 15,000-seat arena were media, VIPs, officials and swimmers who weren’t competing Sunday. It was an eerily quiescent ambiance astatine times, though galore ignored requests by Japanese organizers to refrain for immoderate benignant of cheering to assistance forestall the dispersed of COVID-19.

There was a drum successful the stands, arsenic good arsenic a fewer horns to spice things up.

In a striking interaction earlier the archetypal race, the loudspeakers blared the opus “Pompeii” by the British set Bastille, which includes the lyrics, “But if you adjacent your eyes, does it astir consciousness similar thing changed astatine all?”

In the pool, it was concern astatine usual. But it surely felt similar plentifulness had changed successful an Olympics that were delayed a twelvemonth by a worldwide pandemic and are yet being staged nether choky restrictions that included a prohibition connected each fans.

The Americans had nary complaints.

Even with Phelps looking down from a broadcast seat, they are disconnected to a dynamic commencement astatine the Olympic pool.

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