golden girls put britain on top of europe

There were 5 medals for Great Britain on the closing night of finals in Budapest to bring the team’s total to 13 – the best ever performance by a British squad at these championships. The highlight of the final night was the performance of the ladies 400m medley relay team who snatched gold in a new British Record time, while there were 2 each of silver and bronze to add to the tally and the squad were named the top team of the championships.
Buoyed by a sensational split of 1:06.33 from breaststroke swimmer Kirsty Balfour which overcame a slightly sluggish start from Mel Marshall and sent fly swimmer Terri Dunning into the pool with almost a second advantage, the British Team lowered the British record by three seconds to claim the title. Dunning responded to he position she found herself in, splitting 58.71 to increase the team’s lead over second placed German, but anchorwoman Fran Halsall still had to hold off another incredible split of 52.75 from Germany’s Brittle Stefan to ensure the team could mount the top step of the podium. She achieved that with a gusty effort and a split of 54.21, her fastest of the week.
“I saw the German coming up on me and I thought I can’t let anyone past me – I’m British,” said a delighted Halsall after the race “It was so hard over the last 50m but I managed to hold on and I’m thrilled to get the gold.”
Gritty anchor leg swimming also ensured that the men’s team could claim a bronze medal as Simon Burnett put some indifferent form from earlier in the week behind him, holding off the fast finishing french team with a high quality split of 48.01 as the team came home for third place. James Gibson had earlier put in a speedy 1:00.43, to help gain Todd Copper and Liam Tancock their first medals of the week.
Both teams had been boosted by the performances of Jo Jackson and Caitlin McClatchey in the 400m freestyle final. The British girls were no match for the peerless Laure Manaudou who broke her own world record by almost a second in 4:02.13, but they took the minor medals, Jackson improving her PB to 4:07.76 with McClatchey overhauling Italian Alessa Filippi on the closing 50 to come home in 4:08.13.
Earlier in the session, Kate Haywood claimed silver in the 50m breaststroke, just 0.02 behind Russian winner Elena Bogomozova. Haywood was seemingly put off by a twitch form Agnes Kovacs in the adjacent lane and had the slowest reaction time of any of the eight finalists, tellingly 0.15s slower than the winner. “My starts are always a bit ropey,” she said afterwards,”but I managed to get it right in the heats and semis, it just went wrong today.”
In the other finals, David Carry recorded Britain’s 9th agonising fourth place in the 400IM, touching home in 4:18.86, over 2 seconds behind the medals. His own British record would have been enough for bronze but a hard week’s racing had evidently taken its toll on the Scot. Britain’s last finalist Jessica Dickons securing 5th place in the final of the 200m butterfly in 2:09.75.
An impressive showing over the week which highlighted the depth that the team is building, saw Britain take the top team title with 698 points, well ahead of second placed France on 641. “What a fantastic end to a great meet,” said head coach Ian Turner. “We’ve brought a large group of swimmers and coaches and they’ve all benefited from this experience. We now need to refocus towards Melbourne and ultimately Beijing.”