Rio repeated as Australians enjoy aquatic success

The Australia Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final team celebrate victory and a new world record on day one of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

GOLD COAST -- Host nation Australia's hunt for a first gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games came to an end at a predictable location, as both Mack Horton and the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team touched first in the pool on Thursday.

Just as they had done on the opening night in Rio two years ago, 400m freestyler Horton and the relay team swept to gold, the latter going one better as they repeated that dose with another world record.

The team of Shayna Jack, Emma McKeon, and sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell wiped 0.6 of a second off their Rio mark in recording a time of 3:30.05, sending the near 10,000-strong crowd delirious as they finished ahead of Canada and England.

"We weren't expecting that at all tonight, when we set that world record [in Rio] it was a really quick time," Bronte Campbell said. "We weren't expecting to get near it tonight and then we did; I don't know how that happened.

"I think there is something to be said for home-crowd advantage, we've never had that before, and now we can see what it does for us."

As the only new member of the team from Rio, Jack had to complete a swim-off earlier on Thursday to take her place on the team. Some 10 hours later, she was the co-owner of a world record.

"I'm really grateful that I got that final spot," Jack said. "I did have that swim-off this morning which I'm very grateful to have that opportunity for a second chance...and then to come out with a world record, I have no words for it.

"I probably won't sleep tonight at all because I'm just so excited to be part of that and I'm just so proud of that to have my name against that world record with the others. It's a dream come true."

The senior member of the team, Cate Campbell closed out the relay to secure the record albeit with a tight changeover from the blocks. With another full program on her agenda, the elder Campbell will make a point of enjoying the moment and not let her remaining swims shadow it as they did in Rio.

"This is the stuff of dreams and to have that a reality is something that I will never take for granted ever again," she said. "I think that as perfectionists we can always look for the next thing and we don't stop and appreciate the incredible moments when they happen and this is one of those rare and incredible moments.

"To come back from a year off and to be part of something that you're the best in the world at is a pretty, pretty special moment. So I'm going to make sure I stop and take a couple of breaths and realise how special this moment is because not many people get to experience it."

Earlier, Horton again saluted for Australia, taking out the 400m freestyle with a powerful finish down the stretch under the night sky at the Optus Aquatic Centre. After sitting in third for the first 200m, Horton flicked the switch to run down teammate Jack McLoughlin [silver] and England's Guy James [bronze].

"Just swimming in front of the home crowd is unreal," Horton said. "I probably feel more emotional being here than in Rio, the whole crowd is cheering for you. That didn't happen so much in Rio, so it's just unreal.

"Rio's cool, but I think home crowd is probably always going to win. Ten thousand people cheering for you is pretty unreal."

While he trailed for the opening 200m, Horton was always confident he had the race right where he wanted it.

"Whenever I race, I want to feel like I'm in control and part of that is telling yourself that you're in control," he said. "And I think I was controlling it for the whole race, I know if they're going out that hard they're going to sting a lot on the way home."

While Australia came away with two gold, three silver and four bronze from the pool, they were upstaged by an England team who took home four gold medals of their own.

Aimee Wilmott set the tone for her country with an upset victory over two-time defending champion Scot Hannah Miles. Wilmott's effort was then backed up by Thomas Hamer and Eleanor Robinson in the S14 200m freestyle and S7 50m butterfly respectively, before James Wilby stormed home over the last 50 to capture the men's 200m breaststroke.

Meanwhile, Maddie Groves qualified fastest for Friday night's final of the 100m butterfly with a new Commonwealth Games record of 57.22.