Adrian, Weber-Gale, Lezak and Phelps of the U.S. pose with their bronze medals for the men's 4x100m freestyle relay final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai
Nathan Adrian, Garrett Weber-Gale, Jason Lezak and Michael Phelps (L-R) of the U.S. pose with their bronze medals for the men's 4x100m freestyle relay final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai July 24, 2011. Reuters

Australia's inexperienced men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay team provided a massive boilover on the first day of pool competition, while China completed their sweep of titles in the diving at the world swimming championships Sunday.

The Australian team, anchored by former world record holder Eamon Sullivan and including two relative novices in James Magnussen and Matthew Abood stunned the packed Oriental Sports Center to clinch the title in the three minutes, 11.0 seconds.

Australia had not won the title at the world championships since 2001 and had not been expected to challenge for gold, but they refused get overawed by the pre-race predictions. They nudged out a swaggering French outfit and an American team that included Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak.

Lezak had memorably swum a blistering leg in the Water Cube in Beijing to overhaul Alain Bernard and ensure that Phelps remained on track for his record eight Olympic gold medals and many had been expecting a similar showdown to emerge in Shanghai.

The Australians, however, played spoilsport and led from start to finish. Sullivan clawed his way down the final stretch, cheered on by his compatriots sitting directly behind the pool, to pip the fast-finishing Fabien Gilot by a fingertip.

U.S. anchor swimmer Nathan Adrian touched almost a second behind the Australians and their coach said after the race that the team was less enthused with their bronze-place finish.

"I don't know if angry was the right word but they weren't happy," coach Eddie Reese told reporters.

"This is something we need to take care of now. It's over. All we want to do is try and get these guys to swim on that relay and get them better for the next event."


While the Americans had not expected to sweep all the events in the pool, China had high expectations they would do so in the diving pool, which they achieved with Qiu Bo winning the men's' 10-metres platform gold.

It was the first time since 1982 that a single country had swept all of the diving titles at a world championships but what make the feat more impressive is that in 1982 the U.S. won four golds, while in Shanghai the home team won 10.

"I'm really happy to win back the world championships title for China," Qiu said in relation to Britain's Tom Daley winning the gold in Rome in 2009.

"Now I'm looking forward to the London Olympics. Daley is a good diver and then he will be competing at home but I believe I have a chance to win."

Daley, also sent a warning to the Chinese they should not expect to sweep the titles in London in a little over 12 months time.

"There is a big gap between me and Qiu Bo," the fifth-placed Daley said after finishing 80-points behind Qiu.

"The Chinese are fantastic. But you can see that everything can happen and you can see the Chinese made mistakes in today's competition."

China's Sun Yang, who had widely been expected to win the 400 freestyle gold, also showed he was fallible when he allowed South Korea's Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan to open up a big lead and could not reel him in.

"The result did not meet my expectations but the silver is still encouraging," Sun said.

"The world champions are all around me, I've learned many things from them, especially from Park."

It was a sweet victory for Park, who had failed to make the final in Rome two years ago despite being the Olympic champion and who had qualified for the final in seventh.

"The final result is great for me," Park said.

Italy's Federica Pellegrini predictably defended the women's 400 freestyle title, as did the Netherlands' women's 4x100 metres freestyle relay team.