Great Britain seal stunning relay silver on opening night of European Championships

Great Britain won their first medal on the opening night of the European Aquatics Championships thanks to stunning swim from the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay team.

The quartet of Freya Colbert, Lucy Hope, Medi Harris and Freya Anderson were only 0.66 seconds behind the gold-medal winning Netherlands team as they took the silver while swimming in lane one.

In front of a sun-drenched crowd at the Foro Italico Sports Complex in Rome, Britain were in contention to retain their title for a third successive European Championships.

Colbert got the British team off to an excellent start, clocking 1:58.72 as they touched in second place with Hope taking over for the second leg.

She clocked 1:58.98 to put the Brits in front as Harris dived in and an excellent leg from the backstroke specialist saw her record a time of 2:00.01 and give Anderson a 0.10 advantage as she took over.

Anderson gave it her all, touching home in 1:57.02, but a determined swim from Holland’s Marrit Steenbergen, who clocked 1:56.26, ensured the British team had to settle for silver in a time of 7:54.73.

Tamryn van Selm and Holly Hibbott who swam in the heat race will also receive medals.

Anderson said: “I think I was a bit hard on myself, saying I left it too late.

“But taking a step back and looking at it, this is our third competition of the year and putting it into context, I’m pretty happy with that.

“The girls put me in the best position they could, so I just had to get my hand on the wall.

“Being in this environment, outdoors, in one of the nicest pools in the world, it helps you find something, and the crowd is amazing here.

“The team is really relaxed, we’ve got ourselves on the medal table now, so hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”

Men finish sixth

In the men’s race, Britain finished in sixth place.

Matthew Richards, Kieran Bird, Jacob Whittle and Tom Dean recorded a time of 7:12.38.

That was seven seconds behind the gold medallists, Hungary, with Italy second and France third.

Final for Freya

The relay success was Anderson’s second swim of the evening as she qualified fourth fastest for the Women’s 100m Freestyle final.

The 21-year-old National Centre Bath swimmer finished third in her semi-final following a strong second 50m.

She was in fourth place at the turn but was the second fastest swimmer in the field down the home straight and she clocked 54.33.

Lucy Hope is the first reserve for the final after finishing ninth overall.

She touched home behind Anderson in the first semi-final in 55.15 to miss out on a place in the final by only 0.36 seconds.

Wilby progresses

Commonwealth champion James Wilby booked his spot in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke final by a narrow margin.

He clocked 1:00.26 as he improved on his morning’s heat time as on his way to a fourth-place finish in the first semi-final.

That was the eighth quickest time of both races with Wilby only 0.23 ahead of the first reserve for the final, which takes place tomorrow night.

Greg Butler was 15th overall as he recorded 1:01.25 to take seventh in the same race as Wilby.

Katie wins her semi-final

Katie Shanahan was narrowly outside her lifetime best as she booked her place in the Women’s 200m Backstroke final in style.

She clocked 2:09.82 to win her semi-final and qualify third fastest overall.