A blistering anchor leg by Ariarne Titmus (right) secured bronze for Australia. (AP: Petr David Josek)
Saving their best until last, Australia has added another medal to its world swimming championships tally at Budapest after teenager Ariarne Titmus powered home to clinch 4×200-metres freestyle relay bronze.
There was a real threat of Australia bombing out entirely on the podium on day five at Duna Arena.
Sprint king Cameron McEvoy, the 2015 world titles silver medallist, was relegated to fourth in the 100m freestyle final before Emily Seebohm was touched out for bronze in the 50m backstroke despite setting a new national record.
Australia finally extended its tally to seven medals, but still no gold, on day five’s final event after rookie teenager Titmus reeled in Russia’s Arina Openysheva on the final leg.
The team was completed by Madi Wilson, Kotuku Ngawati and Emma McKeon, who nabbed her fifth medal — four silver and one bronze — of the eight-day titles.
Not just the free … The 100m butterfly final also garnered silver for McKeon (left). (AP: Tamas Kovacs)
It surpassed McKeon’s four-medal haul at Rio that made her Australia’s most successful swimmer in the Olympic pool last year.
Taking on a hectic seven-event program, McKeon claimed bronze after backing up from qualifying eighth-fastest for the 100m freestyle final.
She also has the 4x100m medley relay to come.
McKeon’s (right) fourth silver came when she tied Katie Ledecky for second in the 200m freestyle. (Reuters: Michael Dalder)
“It was pretty tough [backing up]. That’s 11 races for me now — it’s catching up with me,” McKeon said.
“I am looking forward to a sleep-in tomorrow.”
No gold yet, with only a couple of chances left
With three days left, Australia is 11th on the medal table with five silver and two bronze, well behind leaders the United States (nine gold, eight silver, three bronze).
Australia’s best remaining gold chances are Seebohm in the 200m backstroke, Bronte Campbell in the 50m and 100m freestyle and Olympic 400m champion Mack Horton in the 1,500m freestyle.
But Australia will not threaten in the men’s 200m backstroke after defending world champion Mitch Larkin failed to make the final.
Earlier at the championships, Larkin finished sixth in his other world title defence event, the 100m backstroke.
Australia fell one gold shy of the US to finish second at the 2015 world titles with seven gold, three silver and six bronze.
Cameron McEvoy won 100m silver in 2015, but could not get on the podium this year. (AP: Michael Sohn, file photo)
The gold drought continued when McEvoy was kept off the 100m podium.
McEvoy clocked 47.92 seconds to finish fourth behind gold medallist Caeleb Dressel (47.17) of the US.
Australia’s frustration continued in the women’s 50m backstroke final when Seebohm clocked a new national mark of 27.37 but could only manage fourth.