Fran-tastic day as Halsall takes gold

Jemma Lowe, Christoph Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall
Jemma Lowe, Christoph Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall
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Southport’s Fran Halsal was celebrating gold as Great Britain smashed the world record in the mixed 4x100 metres medley, claiming three gold medals on day two of the European Swimming Championships in Berlin.

GB already had six medals from their evening’s work to go with the two bronze claimed on Monday when Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty, Jemma Lowe and Halsall stood on the edge for the final race of the night.

And the quartet did not disappoint, leading on each crossover and coming home in three minutes 44.02 seconds to break the previous record set by Australia in January by 2.5secs.

For Walker-Hebborn and Peaty, relay success brought their second golds of the night as they finished top of the podium in the 100m backstroke and 100m breaststroke respectively.

“It is fun swimming the mixed relay, the guys give a different dynamics to the event,” Halsall said.

“Of course, we had the individual gold medallists in the 100m back and breast, so I had a great starting position.”

Walker-Hebborn staged a late surge to win gold as he overhauled 2011 world champion Jeremy Stravius and Germany’s Jan-Philip Glania in the final metres to claim victory in a time of 53.32 seconds.

His win capped a glorious month for the University of Bath athlete who had also won 100m backstroke gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “I am so excited to win this,” he said.

“After the Commonwealth Games there was no pressure on me, so I just wanted to go out there, enjoy it and see what happened and I’m really pleased with the result.”

Peaty also grabbed gold as he pipped team-mate Ross Murdoch to win the 100m breaststroke title.

Peaty – who like Walker-Hebborn had also won gold in the same event in Glasgow – touched home in 58.96 seconds after being third at the turn, with Murdoch settling for silver 0.47 seconds behind.

Halsall also claimed two medals on Tuesday night, having earlier won bronze in the 50m butterfly behind Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem and Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen.

There was a silver medal for Lizzie Simmonds in the women’s 200m backstroke as she fought back from sixth at the half-way point to finish 0.29secs behind Spain’s Duane Da Rocha.

“I’m very pleased with the result, even if it was a tight finish,” she said.

“Today I used different tactics because I held back during the first 100m, and 
that paid off in the final sprint.”

Ben Proud also picked up a bronze medal in the men’s 50m butterfly after dramatically dead-heating for third place with Andriy Govorov of Ukraine, with both swimmers recording an identical time of 23.31 seconds.