MELBOURNE (AFP) – Japanese master Daiya Seto became the first swimmer ever to claim six straight world titles in the same event at a short course championships on Saturday as Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte smashed the women’s 50 metres (m) breaststroke record.
Two further world records tumbled on day five in Melbourne – in the men’s and women’s mixed 4x50m relays.
After trailing through the opening butterfly and backstroke legs, Seto swam a storming 100m breaststroke to claim the lead then powered home with his unbeatable freestyle to win the 400m medley in 3mins 55.75secs.
It was the sixth consecutive time he has won gold, a feat never achieved before at either a short course or long course world championships.
His reign began in 2012 and he kept it intact by touching ahead of American Carson Foster by nearly two seconds with South Africa’s Matthew Sates earning bronze.
“I was focused on this event. I swam the 200 medley and the 200 butterfly and the 200 breast, but the 400 medley is my favourite event,” the 28-year-old said.
“I never lose in short course. Next year, I want to be the champion in long course.”
Meilutyte then blitzed the field to set a new breaststroke mark in the semi-finals, hitting wall in 28.37 to lower the 28.56 held by Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson since 2018.
Australian pool queen Emma McKeon, who dominated the Tokyo Olympics, was also on fire, joining an elite club of just four sprinters to win the women’s 50-100m freestyle double.
She was always in charge of the splash and dash to touch in 23.04, with Poland’s Katarzyna Wasick left in her wake.
“I still don’t call myself a 50m specialist, I prefer the 100,” said McKeon. “I knew I had to just kill the start, the start is one of my strengths.”