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Australia takes charge in the pool

Australia's swimmers opened their account in the pool at the Commonwealth Games today, clinching three of the five medals on offer as they sought to replicate their success of four years ago.

delhi Updated: Oct 04, 2010 21:00 IST

Australia's swimmers opened their account in the pool at the Commonwealth Games on Monday, clinching three of the five medals on offer as they sought to replicate their success of four years ago.

Kylie Palmer kickstarted the medal hunt with a win in the 200m freestyle, while Alicia Coutts took gold in the 200m individual medley and the men's 4x100 freestyle team won back the title they lost to South Africa in Melbourne.

The start of the fast and furious relay was held up momentarily though while an official cleared what appeared to be a swarm of dragonflies from one of the lanes with a fishing net.

Australia's masterplan did not all stick to script, with Coutts's surprise victory pushing much-fancied teenager Emily Seebohm into silver spot as she looks to win a medal in eight swimming events this week.

"I am very surprised how well I went," said Coutts. "I knew it was going to be tough against Emily. I am extremely happy with my time."

World number two Nick D'Arcy's failure to qualify for the 200m butterfly blasted the race wide open. It was eventually won by South Africa's Chad Le Clos.

Ryan Napoleon, returning to international competition after a suspension was lifted for a positive test for a banned asthma drug, was kept off top spot in the 400m freestyle by Canada's Ryan Cochrane.

Cochrane's win made him the first Canadian man to win the event for 72 years.

Other notable successes on Monday included the first Commonwealth swimming medal for a Welsh woman since 1974 when Jaz Carlin took silver in the 200m freestyle.

She edged out England's double Olympic 400m and 800m freestyle champion Rebecca Adlington, who took an unexpected third in her international debut at the race.

The 21-year-old world record holder earlier complained about the pre-4:00 am wake-up call to get to the venue on time due to high security in New Delhi.

Scotland's David Carry's bronze in the 400m free saw him relinquish his Commonwealth crown at the event, but he joins three other Scottish swimmers to have won four medals in the Games and goes again in the 200m free on Tuesday.

Cochrane's gold was the highlight of a good day for Canada, which saw both Julia Wilkinson and Stefan Hirniak pick up bronze in the women's 200m medley and men's 200m butterfly.

England picked up silver in the 200m butterfly with Michael Rock -- the country's 100th silver in the Games -- and the relay foursome were outgunned in the final straight by Australia to come second in the 4x100m freestyle.

Gold for South Africa's Le Clos was followed by bronze for the country's men's relay swimmers with Roland Schoeman becoming the first South African man and the ninth male athlete to bag at least eight Games medals.

Tuesday's programme sees four medals up for grabs -- the women's 50m butterfly women's 50m breaststroke; men's 50m backstroke; and men's 200m freestyle.

Australia look strong in the two women's races, with Marieke Guehrer breaking the Games record in the women's 50m butterfly semi-final, ahead of teammate Yolane Kukla, who at 15 is the youngest Australia swimmer since 1986.

Seebohm also goes in the sprint but all will face tough competition from England's on-form Fran Halsall, who won six medals at the recent European Championships.

The women's 50m breaststroke features three strong Australia swimmers, including Olympian Leisel Jones, who is looking to defend her title as part of a breaststroke treble.

England's Liam Tancock, the current world record holder and defending Commonwealth champion in the 50m backstroke faces Aussie opposition from sprinters Ashley Delaney, Hayden Stoeckel and Daniel Arnamnart.

Tancock could only manage the sixth fastest time overall in the semi-final behind the Australian trio, Wales' athlete Marco Loughran and promising New Zealander Daniel Bell.

First Published: Oct 04, 2010 20:57 IST