Ranking GB’s Olympic Medal Shots: Relays Part 2

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Back in 2015, in the build up to the world championships of that year, Chris Spice spoke of how he wanted GB to become a force in the relay events. Well fast forward six years and that has certainly been the case and relays were a high point of the British performance at the European championships, with medals won in all 9 events and 7 of those yielding gold, including a clean sweep for the British ladies.

Of that group, the women’s 4×200 team was, perhaps controversially, not selected for the Olympics. That was presumably as a measure to manage the demands on Freya Anderson and Abbie Wood, who faced difficult individual event clashes with that race, but the other two women’s relays will be in the mix in Tokyo.

Having looked at the men’s relays already, time to dive into the women’s chances and also consider the mixed medley relay, an event making its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

For each team, use the drop down to see each team’s potential line up and times for comparison

4x100m freestyle

Now here’s a relay we perhaps wouldn’t have considered GB as any sort of contender for. But as events in Budapest showed, GB now has a quartet that can mix it with the best of them. Its also worth noting that in that gold medal winning performance Anna Hopkin split 53.59 but went on to drop splits of 52.65 and 52.66 anchoring the medley relays so the freestyle relay victory came with plenty of potential to improve.

Freya Anderson is a key part of the sprint free team. PIc: ISL/Mike Lewis

Ranking the GB team from their flat start times in order to compare to other nations is a little tricky given Abbie Wood doesn’t have an individual 100 free ranked in the world top 200 in 2021, and her official PB from the Manchester meet in February is only 55.77, which doesn’t sit well with her scorching 53.90 split in Budapest. So instead we’ve looked at the difference between her reaction time in her individual 200IM (0.68) and her reaction time in the relay (0.37) and adjusted her notional flat start time by the difference, it’s not perfect but it’s as good an estimate as any.

So to the racing: basically barring a DQ it seems almost certain Australia will win and the world record will go. Behind them is over a 3 second gap on paper to China with the USA surprisingly only in third spot, but it’s tight then with Canada and GB a few tenths down and on equal times. The Netherlands, runners up in Budapest despite the anchor heroics of Femke Heemskerk, sit further back, but will be much closer in water than in theory.

It would be a long shot for Britain to make the podium here, but it’s not out of the question. One thing which may count against them is the need to swim the same team in heats and finals, but the morning finals and the slightly lengthened gap between them and the heats the previous day may help mitigate that. If nothing else it’s a great way for the ladies to blow away the cobwebs on Day 1 of competition.

Great Britain

Great Britain

SwimmerTime
Anderson00:53.40
Hopkin00:53.43
Hope00:53.89
Wood00:54.20
Total Time03:34.92

Australia

Australia

SwimmerTime
Mckeon00:52.19
Campbell00:52.43
Wilson00:52.76
Harris00:52.92
Total Time03:30.30

China

China

SwimmerTime
Zhang00:52.90
Yang00:53.21
Cheng00:53.76
Wu00:53.84
Total Time03:33.71

USA

USA

SwimmerTime
Weitzel00:53.52
Smol00:53.55
Hinds00:53.55
Brown00:53.59
Total Time03:34.21

Canada

Canada

SwimmerTime
Oleksiak00:52.89
Sanchez00:53.57
MacNeil00:54.02
Smith00:54.44
Total Time03:34.92

Holland

Holland

SwimmerTime
Heemskerk00:53.03
Kromowidjojo00:53.13
Busch00:54.69
Steenbergen00:55.24
Total Time03:36.09

Japan

Japan

SwimmerTime
Ikee00:53.98
Igarashi00:54.14
Sakai00:54.32
Omoto00:54.36
Total Time03:36.80

4 x 100m Medley Relay

Despite a dominant victory over the rest of Europe, this is an event that takes a huge step forward on the global stage and even GB retaining that status as the continental best is unlikely to be enough for a medal.

Kathleen Dawson has led the GB medley relay to two European titles – Pic: pullbuoy/Simone Castrovillari

Australia and the USA seem set to battle it out for gold, while Canada, and China do likewise for bronze. Britain heads the chasing pack but despite being up there on three legs, a relative weakness on butterfly may hamper their chances of improving on a 5th ranked position heading into the meet.

It will be interesting to see if Harriet Jones, winner at trials, or Laura Stephens, who performed so well at Europeans, gets the nod on that leg, or if Alys Thomas can force her way into consideration. A final place and a mid table finish would be a fine way to round off the Olympic programme.

Great Britain

Great Britain

SwimmerTime
Dawson00:58.08
Renshaw01:06.21
Jones00:57.79
Anderson00:53.40
Total Time03:55.48

Australia

Australia

SwimmerTime
McKeown00:57.45
Hodges01:05.99
Mckeon00:55.93
Campbell00:52.34
Total Time03:51.71

USA

USA

SwimmerTime
Smith00:57.92
King01:04.72
Huske00:55.66
Weitzel00:53.52
Total Time03:51.82

Canada

Canada

SwimmerTime
Masse00:57.70
Wog01:06.77
Macneil00:56.14
Oleksiak00:52.89
Total Time03:53.50

China

China

SwimmerTime
Chen00:59.75
Tang01:06.04
Zhang00:55.73
Yang00:53.21
Total Time03:54.73

Russia

Russia

SwimmerTime
Fesikova00:59.51
Chikunova01:06.06
Surkova00:57.54
Kameneva00:53.56
Total Time03:56.67

Japan

Japan

SwimmerTime
Konishi00:59.93
Watanabe01:06.50
hasegawa00:58.18
Ikee00:53.98
Total Time03:58.59

4 x 100m Mixed Medley Relay

The mixed relay gives much more scope to cover any weakness that the mens’ or ladies’ teams may have and on that basis GB’s chances improve significantly. In Budapest the formula of Dawson, Peaty, Guy and Hopkin was established as the strongest combination of genders, and whether we see Anna on the anchor or if that spot is taken by Freya Anderson, the format is set.

Adam Peaty could make the difference in the mixed medley – pic: ISL/MIke Lewis

Tactics are hard to call, but following a formula whereby the men swim the 2 legs with the biggest time difference to the equivalent woman, it is tight at the top, with only 0.49 seconds separating the USA, Australia and GB. China though lurk ominously and are world record holders so expect to see them in the medal shake out.

Heat tactics will be interesting for Britain given a clash with the individual men’s 100 fly to manage, so it may be that Duncan Scott is once again seen on that leg, as he was in the Budapest heats, or a completely different arrangement is used, but assuming the final is achieved, any team that can boast Adam Peaty will be competitive and there is a medal here for the taking.

Great Britain

Great Britain

SwimmerTime
Dawson00:58.08
Peaty00:57.39
Guy00:50.96
Anderson00:53.40
Total Time03:39.83

USA

USA

SwimmerTime
Smith00:57.92
Andrew00:58.14
Dressel00:49.76
Weitzel00:53.52
Total Time03:39.34

Australia

Australia

SwimmerTime
McKeown00:57.45
Stubblety Cook00:59.69
Temple00:50.45
Mckeon00:52.19
Total Time03:39.78

China

China

SwimmerTime
Xu00:52.88
Yan00:59.21
Zhang00:55.73
Yang00:53.21
Total Time03:41.03

Russia

Russia

SwimmerTime
Rylov00:52.12
Prigoda00:59.11
Surkova00:57.54
Kameneva00:53.56
Total Time03:42.33

Japan

Japan

SwimmerTime
Konishi00:59.93
Sato00:59.18
Kawamoto00:51.00
Ikee00:53.98
Total Time03:44.09

Banner Image: ISL/Mike Lewis

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