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Great Britain edge fantastic fight for gold to cap another successful European night

Great Britain came out on top in a fantastic fight for gold in the Mixed 4x200m Freestyle Relay to cap another successful night at the European Aquatics Championships in Italy.

It was the third podium-topping performance at Rome’s Foro Italico Sports Complex for the British team, who have now claimed 13 medals in total with one day of the swimming competition still to go.

The team of Tom Dean, Matt Richards, Freya Colbert and Freya Anderson clocked 7:28.16 to finish 1.09 seconds ahead of France.

Olympic champion Dean got the British team off to a flying start as he touched in 1:46.15 to give Richards a body-length lead as he took over for the second leg.

Richards, who was part of Team GB’s Men’s 4x200m Freestyle gold-medal winning team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, produced another good swim and had built up a 1.10 second advantage for Colbert.

She was being chased down by France’s Charlotte Bonnet and found herself trailing with 100m of her leg to go.

However, Colbert produced an excellent second half of her swim to regain the lead as Anderson dived in.

With 50m of the race to go, France held a slender 0.04 lead but Anderson stormed home to claim an impressive victory and successfully defend the title they won at last year’s European Championships.

Kieran Bird, Jacob Whittle and Lucy Hope will all receive gold medals as well for their efforts in the heats.

Dean said: “We feel really good.

“We are defending champions in the Mixed 4 x 200m, so we wanted to come back here and defend that title.

“It’s been a long summer of racing for us. We knew what we had to do. We knew we weren’t going to be able to go out hard and really attack it. We knew we had to hang on.

“We had to execute our individual race plans and have strong back ends in each and every one of our 200s and everyone did that here.

“It’s so easy in relays to get ahead of yourself, to use the energy and take it out too hard and pay the price in the back end.

“It was four excellently executed swims and that’s just what you’ve got to do to win relays.”

Richards added: “France inched us out on that Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay and I think there was that little bit of wanting revenge.

“We managed to get that and as Deano said, everyone put on a really mature swim and a very good show and that’s all you can ask for at this point in the season.”

Harris denied at the touch

It was almost a golden double for Great Britain but Medi Harris missed out on top spot by 0.06 seconds in the Women’s 100m Backstroke.

The silver capped a maiden international individual medal for Harris who was pipped to the gold in the final few metres of a thrilling final.

She was fifth at the halfway stage but had a wonderful turn and looked as though she was going to be crowned European champion.

But Italy’s Margherita Panziera delighted the home crowd as she touched first in 59.40, with Harris clocking 59.46.

Hopkin seventh in quick race

Anna Hopkin rounded off a hectic season with a seventh-place finish in a quick Women’s 50m Freestyle final.

Hopkin reacted quickest off the blocks and looked in contention for a medal during the splash and dash race.

However, as the field charged to the wall, Hopkin finished in 24.87.

Despite being seventh, the 26-year-old was only 0.23 seconds behind the bronze medallist with 0.67 separating places two to seven.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem took the gold in a time of 23.91 – only 0.24 seconds away from her own European record.

Shanahan so close

Katie Shanahan completed her individual programme at the European Championships but was agonisingly outside the medals in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley final.

Shanahan, who won silver in the Women’s 200m Backstroke to claim her maiden international senior medal, had qualified for the final fastest.

However, she was down in sixth place with the last 50m to go and fell just short in her brave effort to claw her way back through the field.

She finished in 2:12.29, which was 0.91 seconds adrift of the bronze medallist, Italy’s Sara Franceschi.

Proud powers through

The fastest man in the world, Ben Proud, booked his place in the Men’s 50m Freestyle final with a convincing victory.

He clocked 21.40 and was the quickest man in the two semi-finals by 0.32 seconds.

It was another thoroughly impressive performance from Proud, who was only 0.06 behind the time which earned him the gold medal in the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

Victory in tomorrow’s final would see him win the world, European and Commonwealth titles all in the same year.

Macinnes, Stephens spur each other on

Keanna Macinnes and Laura Stephens were involved in an excellent battle for top spot in their Women’s 200m Butterfly semi-final.

Macinnes just edged out Stephens as the British duo qualified second and third fastest respectively for Wednesday night’s final.

Macinnes led at 100m but Commonwealth silver medallist Stephens was ahead as they turned for home.

However, Macinnes finished first in 2:08.90, with Stephens only 0.35 behind in 2:09.25.

Denmark’s Helena Rosendahl Bach was the quickest qualifier in 2:08.48.

Clark third fastest into final

Imogen Clark will also be eyeing a medal on the final day after qualifying third fastest in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke.

She finished second behind Italy’s Benedetta Pilato in her semi-final a time of 30.10.

In the second semi-final, Kara Hanlon took sixth spot in a time of 31.32 to finish 10th overall and will be the second reserve for tomorrow’s final.

Valuable experience for debutants

In Men’s 100m Backstroke, Jonathon Marshall and Jonathon Adam finished 11th and 14th respectively on their senior international debuts.

Marshall was narrowly outside his lifetime best as he finished sixth in his semi-final in 54.43, while Adam was seventh in his race after clocking 54.76.

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