Australia’s Emma McKeon became the no 1 female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympics with two more golds on Sunday.
She out-sprinted the field to win the 50m freestyle before helping Australia win the women’s 4x100m medley relay on the final day of the swimming competition in Tokyo.
American Caeleb Dressel, meanwhile, powered to victory in the 50m freestyle and swam an inspired butterfly leg in the men’s medley relay to conclude with five gold medals.
Compatriot Robert Finke finished the distance double, mustering a late surge to win the 1,500m freestyle to add to his 800m gold.
‘I’ve worked so hard for it’ – McKeon
McKeon, 27, will leave Tokyo with four gold medals – two in the individual sprints and two relays.
Having already won the 100m freestyle, she added the 50m on Sunday, with Swede Sarah Sjoestroem taking silver and defending champion Pernille Blume of Denmark getting the bronze.
She was soon back in the pool for the medley relay, swimming the butterfly leg as veteran Cate Campbell’s brilliant final leg pushed the United States into silver.
That gold medal meant McKeon joined Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, and Matt Biondi as the only swimmers to win seven medals at a single Olympics. The only woman to have achieved the feat in any other sport is Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya in 1952.
American Phelps holds the swimming record of eight medals won at a single Games, doing so at Athens 2004 and in Beijing four years later.
“I look at the athletes who have come before me and been so impressed with what they have done and been inspired by what they have done, but I’ve never really looked at the stats of medal counts,” McKeon said.
“It is an honor because I know I’ve worked so hard for it.”
‘Really wonderful moment’ for Dressel
Dressel, 24, had arrived in Tokyo chasing six gold medals but a silver for the Americans in the mixed relay on Saturday ended his chances.
But he did win all the others, taking the 100m and 50m freestyle and 100m butterfly, as well as helping the United States to gold in the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley.
His victory on Sunday in the 50m was sealed by a big margin on 0.48 seconds over France’s Florent Manaudou, with Bruno Fratus of Brazil taking bronze.
He was then back in action in the medley relay and he powered ahead of Britain’s James Guy in his butterfly leg to set up Zach Apple, who raced home on the freestyle anchor leg to clinch victory ahead of Great Britain and Italy.
“It’s wonderful. I wouldn’t change a single thing,” Dressel mentioned “It’s a really beautiful moment. I’m really proud of myself. It’s just really fun racing.
“I will pat myself on the back and then go away and compete again.”
The United States concludes top of the medal table
It has been a fascinating swimming competition in Tokyo, where the United States has topped the medal table with 11 golds and 30 medals in total.
That is five fewer golds than they won at Rio 2016 and London 2012, though, with traditional rivals Australia taking nine golds – their topmost tally at an Olympics.
Eight of Australia’s golds have come from their female swimmers, with Ariarne Titmus and Kaylee McKeown joining McKeon in providing two individual golds apiece.
Great Britain also shone in the pool, leaving with four golds in their record haul of eight medals overall.