Great Britain top swimming medals table in Berlin

Liz Byrnes

Berlin (AFP) - The European Championships came to an end with three gold medals on the final day confirming Great Britain’s place at the head of the medal table in Berlin.

Fran Halsall opened the session with 50m freestyle gold, Jazmin Carlin added the 400m freestyle title to her 800m gold before Ben Proud anchored the British men’s medley relay quartet to victory.

It meant Great Britain topped the table with 24 medals, including nine golds, ahead of Denmark – six golds among their total of nine – with Hungary in third with 14 of which five were gold.

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There were two world records and five European records including one in the penultimate event of the competition as Denmark’s women’s 4x100m medley relay squad won out over Sweden in 3min 55.62sec.

Adam Peaty was prominent for Britain, a far cry from the little boy who refused to go near water and who readily confesses to having both a fear and loathing of the pool when he was a young child.

Both Peaty and Florent Manaudou of France finished with four gold medals although the Briton set a world record in the 50m breaststroke and was part of the Great Britain mixed medley relay squad that set a new world mark.

Sarah Sjostrom was the most successful woman, the Swede claiming three gold medals and four silvers just a week after her 21st birthday.

Hungary’s ‘Iron Lady’ Katinka Hosszu won six medals – three gold, a silver and two bronzes – as did Spain’s Mireia Belmonte – two golds, two silvers and a bronze in the pool along with 5km open water bronze.

Great Britain’s Fran Halsall won five, three golds and two bronzes.

- personal best -

Manaudou completed the sprint freestyle double with victory in the 50m freestyle – in which he is Olympic champion - his time of 21.32secs propelling him alongside Brazilian Cesar Cielo as the fastest man in history in a textile suit.

The Frenchman also shared the 50m butterfly title and was part of France’s victorious 4x100m freestyle title relay squad.

Of Sunday’s performance, he said: “This is my personal best. Nevertheless it was a completely perfect race.

“It is the end of the week and slowly but surely we are becoming tired.”

Peaty swam the breaststroke leg for the Great Britain medley relay that won in 3:31.73 ahead of France and Hungary to add to his 50m and 100m breaststroke titles – and world record in the former – as well as his mixed relay gold, also in world record time.

It has been a staggering few weeks for the 19-year-old. Two golds and a silver at the Commonwealth Games followed by his success in Germany.

Peaty said: “It’s a change of culture in British swimming, it’s amazing. There is no putting your feet up now, you’ve always got to keep working.

“I think that’s a good thing. You always have younger ones on your toes, in a few years I might have younger ones on my toes.

“It is going to keep you pushing and be good for Rio hopefully.”

Sjostrom may have turned 21 just a week ago but this is the fourth straight Europeans at which she has visited the podium, her first time at age 14.

In Berlin she won golds in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle and Sweden’s 4x100m freestyle relay squad. That was accompanied by four silvers in the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly and the 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay.

She said: "I knew I had a chance to take seven medals but I am disappointed with some of my swims because I know I can do much better.

“I think I need to put more effort into the 100 fly which was lazy in the first 50 and the 50 freestyle I was too tired to do a fast race."

Halsall opened the session with 50m freestyle victory in 24.32 with Manaudou hurtling to the top of the world rankings with his 21.32 a championship record.

Ruta Meilutyte won the 50m breaststroke in 29.89, Belmonte Garcia had a dominant 200m butterfly victory in 2:04.79, a championship record, while Carlin won the 400m freestyle in 4:03.24 with former double world champion Federica Pellegrini fourth in what may be her final race at the distance.

Denmark set a new European record of 3:55.62 in the women’s 4x100m medley relay with Great Britain winning the men’s equivalent in 3:31.73.

David Verraszto of Hungary won the men’ 400m individual medley in 4:11.89.

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