Great Britain break world record in inaugural swimming mixed 4x100m medley final

The British team finished the race in 3:37.58, with People's Republic of China second and Australia taking bronze. 

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Great Britain swam to victory - and a new world record - in the debut Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay final.

The British team, made up of Kate Dawson (backstroke), Adam Peaty (breaststroke), James Guy (butterfly) and Anna Hopkin (front crawl), finished in a time of 3:37.58, a full 1.28 seconds ahead of second-place People's Republic of China.

Britain, who chose a swimming order of woman, man, man, woman, were trailing until the third leg when Guy made up a huge amount of time as he chased down the leading swimmers. His leg was followed by a stellar swim from Anna Hopkin, who touched the wall to claim the Olympic title.

The British team can now call themselves the event's first-ever Olympic champions and world record holders.

In the swimming mixed 4x100m medley event teams can choose the order in which their swimmers compete, meaning during some legs women face off directly against men.

The event is one the highlights of the most gender-balanced Games in history, joining triathlon, judo, athletics, shooting, archery and table tennis in having a new mixed-gender Olympic event.

People's Republic of China were the pre-race world record holders, having set a time of 3:38.41 in September 2020. However, Britain blew that time out of the water, clocking 3:37.58 in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

After the race, Peaty spoke proudly about the performance of the team. "It was very surreal," he said. "We knew that race was going to be hard, we put down some good times yesterday, I knew I was on form for the relay but really it was just going down there and executing the perfect process...

"It's just amazing to be part of such an amazing team. Obviously, these women are so strong, I've been racing with Jimmy (Guy) for the last 10 years. No other team has got that heritage."

Hopkin, who anchored the relay team, bringing Great Britain home in first, said: "These guys got me such a good lead. I knew if I was ahead of the girls, I could stay ahead. 

"I knew (Caeleb Dressel) was coming behind me, but they got me such a good lead he wasn't catching me."

And perhaps Dawson summed up what makes the new format so exciting best when she remarked: "It's about going through your own race process and not really focusing on what team's putting in what gender (on which leg).

"I could have gone against two females, two males, it didn't really matter. I just had to go through my own race. 

"I am super proud of the whole team, they've all done so well."

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