An emotional Emma McKeon says she still struggles to be proud of herself.
The Australian swam from greatness to legend in Birmingham on Sunday night, capturing her 11th Commonwealth Games gold medal – no athlete has won more.
Her individual landmark came as four Australians – Madi Wilson, Kiah Melverton, Mollie O’Callaghan and Ariarne Titmus – also swam into history.
The quartet set a world record to win the 4x200m freestyle relay – Australia’s third gold in a stunning 60 minutes on Sunday night.
Kaylee McKeown also saluted in the 100m backstroke and the swim team added four silver and three bronze medals to their collection on the night.
After the midway point of the Birmingham meet, Australia’s swim team have 11 golds, nine silver and 12 bronze.
McKeon has featured in three of the golds – two relays and her 50m freestyle triumph which hoisted her into the rarest of air.
The Wollongong wonder eclipsed the previous record for most Commonwealth golds – 10 – by Australian swimmers Susie O’Neill, Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones.
“It’s really nice to be mentioned alongside some of those names and I will be part of that history for years to come, hopefully,” McKeon said.
But self-pride doesn’t come easy for the introverted McKeon, whose parents and brother both also swam for Australia at Commonwealth Games.
“I find it hard to be proud of myself at times,” she said.
“That something I’ve struggled with along the way.”
The relayers broke China’s landmark time of last year with a thundering last leg from Titmus.
The Australians clocked seven minutes 39.29 seconds, bettering China’s mark of 7:40.33 and afterwards, Titmus lauded McKeon.
“She’s probably the most humble athlete around,” Titmus said.
“She’s so understated and just goes about her business … she’s a silent assassin, she goes out there and does her job.”
Zac Stubblety-Cook (men’s 100m breaststroke), Meg Harris (women’s 50m freestyle) Jenna Strauch (women’s 200m breaststroke) and Tim Hodge (men’s 100m breaststroke S8) secured silvers.
Shayna Jack (women’s 50m freestyle), Blake Cochrane (men’s 100m breaststroke S8) and Sam Williamson (men’s 100m breaststroke) bagged bronzes.
And Kyle Chalmers, after saying in the morning he felt like flying home amid dry-land controversy, figuratively flew home in the men’s 100m semi-finals.
After blasting false reporting of a supposed love triangle involving his ex-partner McKeon and her new flame Cody Simpson, Chalmers clocked the second-fastest 100m free time this year to be quickest into Monday’s final.
Like Chalmers, McKeon also shut out the media storm in an Australian sweep in her milestone medal race with Harris and Jack.
“It is special,” McKeon said.
“It makes me reflect on the last eight years since my first Commonwealth Games.
“I can see how far I’ve come as a person and an athlete.”