Britannia Ruled the Waves
At the end of the 19th century, England reigned supreme as the world's top swimming nation. Then came the Aussies. In 1899, wiry Freddy Lane became the first Australian to win an English title, the 220 yards in 2:38.2. The next year, Lane became Australia's first Olympic champion, winning the 200 metres at the Paris Olympics. He possibly could have won another title but was late at the pool, due to an official incorrectly advising the starting times.
Two years later, the Australian team won four English championships: Freddy Lane won the 100 (1:00.0, a new world record) and 220 yds (2:28.6) titles. Lane had improved his 220yds time by nearly 10 seconds in two years. Dick Cavill took the 440 (5:04.8) and 880 (11:50.4) yards. The Aussies had arrived on the world scene to stay.