Olympics: Great Britain Scares World Record in 400 Mixed Medley Relay

Jul 26, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Freya Anderson (GBR) in the women's 200m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Freya Anderson; Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Great Britain Scares World Record in 400 Mixed Medley Relay

Everyone on the Olympic stage is learning on the fly when it comes to the mixed medley relay. The event isn’t just making its Olympic debut, after being tested at Worlds since 2015. It’s also, unlike the distance debutant events, got a fair amount of strategy to it.

When do you use your men’s swimmers vs. your women’s? How do you maximize speed? Who needs clean water, and who can handle the pressure of chasing? How much is it about your strengths as opposed to racing in the mainstream logic of the day?

Thursday night’s prelims offered some hints. It also offered another fast Great Britain relay time.

The British team of Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Freya Anderson went for it, putting close to a full-strength lineup out there to nab the top seed in 3:38.75. That’s the third fastest time in history and within .34 of the world record set by China last September.

Second by a wide margin was the United States. It lined up the foursome of Regan Smith, Andrew Wilson, Tom Shields (fresh off the 100 fly) and Abbey Weitzeil to go 3:41.02. The Chinese foursome that set that world recordXu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei, Yang Junxuan – went 3:42.29.

The eighth and final entrant to the final is Israel, which edged Japan and Germany by .2 seconds out of lane eight in the second semifinal.

The teams offered some hints on their lineup machinations. All 16 of the anchor legs were swum by women, and 15 of the 16 breaststroke legs were manned by men. Ten men led off in backstroke (Great Britain went with women first and fourth). Those numbers might be affected somewhat by the prelims of the women’s 200 back and men’s 100 fly occurring earlier Thursday night. The final will be Saturday morning on the heels of the men’s and women’s 50 free semis and the men’s 100 fly final.

Mixed 400 Medley Relay

  • World record: China (Xu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei, Yang Junxuan), 3:38.41 (2020)
  • Olympic Record: N/A
  1. Great Britain (Katheen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy, Freya Anderson) 3:38.75
  2. United States (Regan Smith, Andrew Wilson, Tom Shields, Abbey Weitzeil) 3:41.02
  3. China (Xu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei, Yang Junxuan) 3:42.29
  4. Australia (Isaac Cooper, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Brianna Throssell, Bronte Campbell) 3:42.35
  5. Italy (Simone Sabbioni, Nicolo Martinenghi, Elena di Liddo, Federica Pellegrini) 3:42.65
  6. Netherlands (Kira Toussaint, Arno Kamminga, Nyls Korstanje, Ranomi Kromowidjojo) 3:43.25
  7. Russia (Grigory Tarasevich, Kirill Prigoda, Anna Surkova, Mariia Kameneva) 3:43.73
  8. Israel (Anastasia Gorbenko, Itay Goldfaden, Gal Cohen, Andi Murez) 3:43.94