European Championships: Freya Anderson Anchors Great Britain to Come-From-Behind 400 Free Relay Win

Freya Anderson -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

European Championships: Freya Anderson Anchors Great Britain to Come-From-Behind 400 Free Relay Win

It was a tale of two races in the women’s 400 freestyle relay at the European Championships as Sweden led off with 100 free world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom and followed with Louise Hansson in hopes of building a big lead while Great Britain countered with Anna Hopkin on the second leg and Freya Anderson anchoring. Sjostrom built a huge lead for Sweden, but the British team had enough balance and depth to come back and earn the continental title.

Sjostrom was out in a blistering 25.16 on her first 50 meters, already more than a second ahead of the field. Sjostrom, who turns 29 next week, won silver in the 100 free at the World Championships this year but skipped the event at the European Championships to focus on the 50 free and 50 fly, so this was her only chance to put up an elite 100-meter time this week. However, she faded down the stretch before touching in a still-solid mark of 53.12. Great Britain’s Lucy Hope had the next-best leadoff split at 54.88.

But the Brits got back into the race on the second leg with Hopkin going 53.44, and Medi Harris was solid at 54.61 before Anderson dove in and surpassed Sweden. Anderson pulled away on the last length to touch in 3:36.47, eight tenths ahead of the field.

“It feels amazing! It felt great to race with the girls and to defend the title from last year. Really, you couldn’t ask for more,” Hopkin said. Anderson added, “This was really good, a race put together well. The girls put me in a position where it was really difficult to lose. I’m very happy about that.”

Sjostrom, Hansson, Sarah Junevik and Sofia Astedt of Sweden won silver in 3:37.29. “That’s a huge thing that we won a silver because we miss Michelle Coleman here, who is one of the best freestylers in the world. But we fought for each other to achieve the best we could.”

A fast-finishing team from the Netherlands won bronze in 3:37.59. Kim BuschTessa Giele and Valerie Van Roon swam the first three legs before Marrit Steenbergen, the European titlist in the individual 100 free, closed in 53.02 to move her team past Italy into medal position. The Italians got a 53.56 anchor leg from Silvia Di Pietro, but they ended up fourth in 3:38.01.