Australia has continued its momentum in 2023, capping off a great calendar year with a gold medal in the mixed 4x1500m relay, taking down the World champion Italians in the final stop of the 2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup.

After pulling out an impressive bronze at the World Championships back in July, the Australians won gold here in Funchal, Portugal with the team of Moesha Johnson, Chelsea Gubecka, Bailey Armstrong and Kyle Lee.

Image Source: Australian athletes, Kyle Lee, Bailey Armstrong, Moesha Johnson and Chelsea Gubecka celebrates the victory of the Mixed 4x1500m of the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup 2023 - Funchal (Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Johnson and Gubecka were key on the first two legs, building a lead on the Italians by about 32 seconds to set up the likes of Armstrong and Lee to hold off Gregorio Paltrinieri and Domenico Acerenza. The Italians’ strength is in their back half, where Acerenza and Paltrinieri lifted them to the World title earlier this summer in Fukuoka, as they switched positions this time around in Funchal on the backs of Acerenza winning the 10K on Saturday.

Image Source: David Betlehem giving Hungary the lead at the end of leg three in the Mixed 4x1500m Relay, the final race of the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup 2023 season (Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

The Hungarians, who won bronze at the World Aquatics Championships, had the lead through the first three legs thanks to a strong showing from David Betlehem as he gave way to this year’s overall World Cup champion Kristof Rasovszky on the anchor.

Acerenza had his eyes on Rasvoszky on the final leg and had just about broken the lead at around the 4500m mark as it looked to come down between Hungary and Italy on the final lap. But in the same spot where Acerenza made his move yesterday in the 10K, he faltered in the relay. Lee made a beautiful move on the final turn buoy, pushing under to cut the corner and pull up alongside Rasovszky.

Image Source: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

As they narrowed themselves into the finishing chute, Lee found his line and was able to out-touch the likes of Rasovszky and Acerenza.

Hungary wound up disqualified due to interference on the final lap from Rasovszky.

Australia won the gold at 1:06:05.40 while the Italian team led off by Ginevra Taddeucci and Arianna Bridi won silver at 1:06:49.50.

Hungary’s disqualification elevated France to the bronze medal with the team of Aurelie Muller, Caroline Jouisse, Sacha Velly and Logan Fontaine as they had a time of 1:06:49.50.

Many of these open water swimmers will turn their attention to the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024 in February of next year.