Ben Popham won Australia a fourth gold in the pool today ©Getty Images

Australia's performances at the Aquatics Centre on the first day of swimming ensured the nation ended today top of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games medal table.

The first gold medal in swimming was awarded in the men's S9 400 metres freestyle, which was won by Australian William Martin.

He looked on course to challenge the world record, but faded in the closing moments, although still had enough to hold on to the win ahead of young Frenchman Ugo Didier.

Martin's time - 4min 10.25sec - was a new Paralympic record.

His team mate Alexander Tuckfield was the bronze medallist.

Australia had another gold in the following race, courtesy of Lakeisha Patterson who braved a fast start to win gold in the women's S9 400m freestyle by just a fingertip to Hungarian Zsofia Konkoly in 4:36.68.

British swimmer Toni Shaw was comfortably in the bronze-medal position.

A third Australian gold came in the men's S10 50m freestyle final, as Rowan Crothers toppled the top two from Rio 2016 - Ukrainian Maksym Krypak and Brazilian Phelipe Rodrigues - in a time of 23.21sec.

Crothers' celebration looked as if he surprised himself by touching the wall first as he screamed and thrashed his arms.

William Martin started the Australian gold rush ©Getty Images
William Martin started the Australian gold rush ©Getty Images

Ben Popham made it a day to remember for Australia, giving the nation its fourth gold in the pool and ensuring it ended the first day of competition with six gold medals, one silver and three bronze.

Popham held off the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) athlete Andrei Nikolaev to finish in 57.37, while Dimosthenis Michalentzakis of Greece claimed bronze.

A win for the RPC would have left the team top of the swimming medal table after the first day, having won three other Paralympic titles in the pool today.

Valeriia Shabalina won the first of these in the women's S14 100m butterfly, breaking her own world record in a time of 1:03.59 in front of the Australian duo Paige Leonhardt and Ruby Storm.

In the following race, Roman Zhdanov broke Italian Efrem Morelli's world record to claim gold in the men's SB3 50m breaststroke in 46.49.

Spain's Miguel Luque and Japan's Takayuki Suzuki won silver and bronze.

A third RPC win came in the women's S10 50m freestyle final, as Anastasiia Gontar timed her touch to perfection, narrowly beating Dutch swimmer Chantalle Zijderveld in 27.38.

Aurélie Rivard of Canada won bronze.

Israel's Iyad Shalabi defeated Ukraine's Anton Kol and Francesco Bettella of Italy in the men's S1 100m backstroke for gold in 2min 28.04sec; Chilean swimmer Alberto Abarza won the men's S2 100m backstroke final in 2:00.40 ahead of Gabriel Geraldo dos Santos Araujo of Brazil and Vladimir Danilenko of the RPC.

Shalabi goes down as the first Arab to win a Paralympic medal for Israel.

Yip Pin Xiu of Singapore was dominant in the women's S1 100m backstroke, with the world record-holder finishing nearly 10 seconds in front of her closest challenger, Japan's 14-year-old Miyuki Yamada, in 2:16.61; and nearly 20 in front of Mexican Fabiola Ramirez, who emerged from far back for bronze.

Brazil won gold in the pool today too, with Gabriel Bandeira beating world record-holder Reece Dunn from Britain in the men's S14 100m butterfly with a new Paralympic record - 54.76sec.

Benjamin James Hance claimed bronze for Australia.

Another chance of a British gold was narrowly missed in the women's S1 200m freestyle, after a brave effort from Tully Kearney ended in her being overtaken by Chinese Rio 2016 champion Zhang Li in the final strokes, conceding the gold to the Rio 2016 champion, who touched the wall in 2:46.53.

Monica Boggioni of Italy won bronze.

Yelyzaveta Mereshko took the Paralympic womn's s6 50m freestyle record from American Elizabeth Marks in a tight finish between the pair, clocking a time of 33.11, while the Ukrainian's compatriot Anna Hontar won bronze.

Belarus' Ihar Boki won his 12th Paralympic gold medal by setting a new Games record of 53.80 in the men's S13 100m butterfly, finishing more than two seconds ahead of fellow medallists Oleksii Virchenko of Ukraine and Uzbekistan's Islam Aslanov.

Finally, the Italian national anthem played twice at the end of the night, thanks to Carlotta Gilli in the women's S13 100m butterfly and Francesco Bocciardo in the men's S5 200m freestyle.

Gilli finished in a time of 1min 2.65sec, leading home an Italian one-two completed by Alessia Berra, and the RPC's Daria Pikalova was third.

Gilli and Berra stood together on the podium to sing the national anthem after receiving their medals.

Bocciardo set a new Paralympic record of 2:26.76, taking the standard from Brazilian swimming great Daniel Dias, who was third in the race.

Between them was Antoni Ponce Bertran of Spain.

Swimming returns tomorrow with 14 medal events.