Libby Trickett might retire a four-time Olympic gold medallist but there were doubts whether she would get her final Games prize.
Trickett graduated to the top row of Australian women’s swimming when the 4 x 100m freestyle team won an exciting final at the London 2012 aquatic centre tonight to give the Dolphins their first medal of the meet.
Only icon Dawn Fraser has claimed as many first places in Olympic competition. Fraser, who was in the crowd to watch the day one action, achieved her feat between the 1956 and 1964 Games.
Trickett won gold in the 4 x 100m freestyle in Athens and added the 100m butterfly and 4 x 100m medley crowns in Beijing.
The 27-year-old didn’t swim tonight’s final but will be credited with being on the winning team as will Emily Seebohm and Yolane Kukla, who were also replaced in the later race after swimming the morning heat.
Under old FINA regulations only six medals are normally handed to the triumphant group. But after a check with the game’s governing body it was confirmed that Trickett won’t have to share the precious metal with a teammate and with a quartet of gold in her trophy cabinet.
Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell and Mel Schlanger came into the final to join Brittany Elmslie.
It was Schlanger's strong final leg that helped the Australians notch an Olympic record time of 3min. 33.15secs and hold off the fast-finishing Netherlands contingent (3.33.79).
"I can't describe it. I always wanted to sing the national anthem on top of the dias so it is a dream come true," Schlanger said.
Elmslie described the win as "the best thing I've ever experienced in my whole life.
"I can't wipe the smile off my face."
It was strong performances by Coutts, who had a busy day, also swimming the heats and semifinals of the women’s 100m butterfly.
She was the second fastest qualifier for the individual final tomorrow with 56.85secs. But she was behind favourite Dana Vollmer from the US (56.36s).
Elmslie was also impressive in both races, ironically, notching the same time – 54.61 – in each swim.
“That’s the best thing I have experienced in my whole life,” said the Queenslander. “I just can’t wipe the smile off my face.”