Day 6 Curtain-Closer
Men’s 1500m Freestyle Final
Hunted by a Welsh warrior and an Olympic-champ teammate, Jack McLoughlin joined Ariarne Titmus, Emily Seebohm and other teammates the club of racers restoring Australian pride with victories that broke a bad stretch of misses: in 14:47.09, the first Dolphin home became the first Australian 1500m freestyle champion since Grant Hackett in 2002.
Daniel Jervis, flying his Welsh dragon one step higher than the bronze he claimed in 2014 as a teenager, was next home in a thriller of a three-way 30-lap battle, on 14:48.67, Mack Horton, the Olympic and Commonwealth 400m free champion giving the Dolphins a second leap on to the podium in 14:51.05.
Relatively speaking, there was no-one else in the race – at leasts not for medals, while the line-up of eight required no heats: the Commonwealth, with three per nation allowed, could must just eight men for the 30-lap battle, reflecting the state of world swimming (the bulk of FINA nations are stuck in a time-lapse with a habit of focussing on sending folk to international waters capable of racing 50m, sometimes 100m but rarely more – precisely where all that development money went os clear – on conferences, smart hotels and dinners, flights and blazers for the blazers).
At the helm of standards, the battle was ferocious as Jervis raced in a pincer of Dolphins, his nationality key to feeling.
The last time Australian 1500m pride was dented, it was a Welshman who yielded the sword. Davies Davies’ gold in 2006 ended a run of 12 victories for the Dolphins in the longest Commonwealth clash in the pool, the streak dating back to 1958 atop a tidal wave of tradition.
When Davies watched Dan Jervis race to bronze at Glasgow 2014, he tipped him for the top. The teenager, in common with many others, struggled to find his feet in senior waters but in the past two years has fought back with every passing meet and experience.
Today, he added a fat chapter of experience in a stroke for stroke chase of Australia’s top 2.
By 800m, McLoughlin, in lane 3, had the edge, on 7:53.35, Horton, in 4, on 7:54.01, Jervis, in 5, on 7:54.62. It was a lap later, when Jervis drew with Horton – and from there, the shape of the podium started to take place.
With 200m to go, the challenge had stretched out, McLoughlin on 12:50.36, Jervis 12:53.29 and sensing he could drop Horton, on 12:54.31.
Two laps later, 13:49.83 for the leader, 13:52.12 for the Welshman and Horton looking like it would be bronze or a mighty sprint better, on 13:54.22
The last turn, 14:19.04, 14:20.78, 14:22.81 confirmed that the shape of the race was going to be one in which Jervis was closer to McLoughlin than Horton to Jervis – and so it was.
McLoughlin (and Horton) add to a huge Australian tradition. Since Noel Ryan claimed the first two (1500y) titles for Australia in 1930 and 1934, the list of Australian champions flows and grows: John Konrads, Murray Rose, Ron Jackson (AUS) Graham Windeatt, Stephen Holland, Max Metzker (twice), Jason Plummer, Glen Housman, Kieren Perkins (WR, timewarp 14:41), Grant Hackett (twice).
And then came Davies, followed by Canadian Ryan Cochrane’s two in a row.
The Aussie thirst is over.
The pace of 201§8, so far – at least in Commonwealth waters:
Men 1500M Freestyle (2018)
FRA , 30
GRE , 24
GBR , 28
After the “Jack and Mack” show, McLoughlin said: “It is a really special moment going one-two with Mack.”
Horton was delighted for his teammate, saying. “I am so happy for Jack, it is his first international medal.”
McLoughlin was coached as a junior by Matt Brown, who told the Courier Mail: “He was not a great age group swimmer and did not make a big impact at national age until 15 or 16. Once he finished school, that was when we started to get good work into him. He just missed out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games and broke through with really good performances in 2016.” Brown added:
“He is a really honest kid, has a great work ethic and as sensational kid to have in the team.”