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Surprised Larkin defends swim crown

AAP logoAAP 8/12/2016 Laine Clark

Australia's Mitch Larkin has overcome an injury setback and a difficult Rio Olympics to defend his 100m backstroke world short course swimming title in Canada.

Much to his surprise.

Larkin was pinching himself after claiming Australia's first gold of the six-day meet in Windsor on Thursday (AEDT).

He powered home to touch out Russia's Andrei Shabasov by 0.04 of a second, showing no sign of a knee injury that had plagued him the last fortnight.

"I am a little bit surprised this time around. It's amazing," Larkin said after the day two finals.

"It wasn't a big focus of mine this year with obviously the Olympics.

"I took some time off and mentally I bought into it a lot tonight and set my goal high."

It was a confidence boosting win for Larkin.

He is still coming to terms with life without a full-time coach after leaving long time mentor Michael Bohl following a frustrating Rio campaign.

Tipped to claim a golden backstroke double in Brazil, Larkin was upstaged by American Ryan Murphy and relegated to 200m silver and medley relay bronze after a shock 100m fourth placing.

Then there was his injury setback two weeks ahead of the world titles.

He was left nursing a bruised knee and missed training for days after he slipped on wet gravel while walking to the pool.

"This week for me it is showing a lot of the mental side of swimming," dual long course world champion Larkin said.

"If you really buy into your race, trust your ability and the work you have done anything's possible.

"I think the power of the mind is something really incredible."

Larkin's partner Emily Seebohm was not so fortunate, just missing the women's 100m backstroke podium.

Georgia Davies of Great Britain touched out Seebohm for bronze by 0.01 of a second.

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu added the 100m backstroke crown to the 200m butterfly gold she claimed earlier on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Rio Olympian Daniel Smith was equal fifth in the 200m freestyle final, backing up from featuring in Australia's 4x100m freestyle relay bronze medal effort on Wednesday.

Korea's Park Tae-hwan claimed 200m gold in a new championship record.

Earlier, Australia's Seebohm, Jessica Hansen, Brittany Elmslie and Carla Buchanan were fifth in the 4x50m medley relay final.

Australia's two-time Olympic relay gold medallist Elmslie was also top qualifier for the 100m freestyle final along with Rio champion Penny Oleksiak of Canada.

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