Great Britain struck gold for the first time at the 2022 European Aquatics Championships in Rome on Friday night, after coming out on top of a thrilling final in the Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
Britain finished with a time of 3:36.47 seconds, nearly a second ahead of Sweden, to successfully defend the title they won in Budapest last year. The Netherlands took bronze.
“Moments like that make the pain worthwhile,” said Anna Hopkin.
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“Coming into our third major international meet, it is hard and you have to work that little bit harder to get yourself up for races and get yourself in prime condition. But we all put together a really good race and I'm really proud of us.”
Romanian teenager David Popovici stole the headlines in Rome by setting a new world record of 46.86 seconds in the men’s 100m freestyle.
It was a stunning feat from the 17-year-old, who won gold in the 100m and 200m freestyle at the World Championships in Budapest in June.
He broke the previous record set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo at the World Championships in 2009, also in Rome, by 0.05 seconds.
"I wanted to go as fast as possible and it looks like I did it," he told BBC TV.
"A fantasy now might be a 45 [second time]. Adam Peaty is a pioneer in terms of the goals he set. For others it was science fiction, but not for him."
In the women’s 4x100m relay, Britain’s team of Hopkin, Lucy Hope, Medi Harris and Freya Anderson had high hopes as they lined up for the final race of session at the Foro Italico.
Hope got the Brits off to a solid start, and they were third when Hopkin took over for the second leg.
The Loughborough Performance athlete swam the third-fastest split of the entire race to overtake the Italians into second place at the halfway stage.
Harris, who was competing less than an hour after her 50m backstroke semi-final, put Britain within half a second of leaders Sweden before anchor Anderson dived in.
Also swimming her second race of the night, following her 200m freestyle semi-final, Anderson closed in on the Swedes in the opening 50m before powering past them to take victory in the final straight.
“This is a relay that we are really focusing on going into Paris. We've put together really good relays throughout the year, and to come out at the end of it with a gold at the European Champs and defend our title, it puts us in a really good position going forward,” Hopkin added.
The triumph capped a great night for Britain in the pool, coming on the back of bronze medals for Freya Colbert and Luke Greenbank.
The 18-year-old Colbert came third in the women’s 400m medley, clocking a time of 4:40.06 that put her close to second-placed Zsuzsanna Jakabos of Hungary.
Greenbank, a silver medallist at the World Championships earlier this year, took bronze in the men’s 200m backstroke with a time of 1:56.15.
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