Fran Halsall stormed to England’s first Delhi gold at the start of a rich evening in the pool that yielded two golds and two bronze medals for England swimmers.
Halsall said she was “made up” at winning gold in the 50m butterfly – not part of her plan for the Games.
“I don't have the start that those girls have but I put everything into catching them,” she said.
On the medal ceremony, she added: “Being on the podium with the St George’s cross flying high was a special moment and I had to fight back the emotion.”
Liam Tancock took England’s second gold immediately after Halsall with a Games record in the 50m backstroke in 24.62.
“I'm thrilled to bits,” said the 25 year-old. “Four years ago I won a silver after my team-mate Matt Clay beat me to the gold. He sent me a text today telling me to go one better and smash it up and that’s what I did.
“It’s all about the racing and I proved that tonight. I had an outside lane and swam through them to touch first. My whole preparation has been about focusing on the small parts of my race and it all came together tonight.”
Their success was quickly followed by a bronze for Kate Haywood in the 50m breaststroke. “At the start of the year I wouldn't have thought that was possible,” said Haywood, who has struggled against a serious hip injury.
“I’ve been working so hard to get back to full fitness. I’ve worked on my weaknesses and I’ve come through the other side a stronger swimmer.
“I’ve had great support from my family and my boyfriend Kev and a large part of this result belongs to them.”
Stephanie Millward also won a bronze, in the women’s S9 50m freestyle.
The 29-year-old, who swam for the England and Great Britain teams before being diagnosed with MS shortly before the Sydney Olympic Games, said she had to work hard to make up for a poor start.
She said: “When you consider the start a bronze medal is a great result and gives me confidence for my remaining events.”
Just over an hour after winning gold, Halsall was back to qualify for the final of the women’s 100m freestyle, clocking 55.10 in her semi-final.
England will have three swimmers in the final of that event tomorrow, as Anna Smith (55.18) and Emma Saunders also qualified.
England’s world champion Gemma Spofforth qualified sixth fastest for the women’s 100m backstroke final tomorrow, a disappointing performance which she vowed to learn from.
”Everyone wants to do so well here,” she said. “But all swimmers tonight wanted it as much as I do and I may have forgotten that.
“I won’t make the same mistake tomorrow. I’ve just sneaked in and I don’t want to let that opportunity slip away.”
Anthony James was pleased to make the final of the men’s 50m butterfly, saying that racing against the likes of Australia’s Geoff Heugill would be “an education”.
In the men’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals, Daniel Sliwinski just made the final with a time of 1:01.60.
“I just had to give it everything and I scraped through,” he said, “It was hard to judge the race from the outside lane but I'll be in that position tomorrow night.”
There were some personal achievements as well. Ellen Gandy, fifth in the women’s 50m butterfly final, dipped below the 27 second mark for the first time and Adam Willis knocked almost a second and a half off his best time in the men’s 100m breaststroke semi-final.