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2022 European Championship Previews: Brits, Swedes Highlight Women’s Relays

2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Great Britain has become the team to beat in the women’s relays on the European scene, as they’re coming off a sweep of all three at the 2020 edition held last May.

On the international stage, the European women haven’t been particularly competitive in recent years as Australia, the United States and Canada have been dominant in piling up the medals.

Sweden had the top women’s relay finish among European countries at the World Championships, taking fourth in the medley, while Great Britain finished fifth in the 400 free and Hungary was fifth in the 800 free.

But none of that really matters at Euros, as the nations will go head-to-head with each event very much up for grabs.

WOMEN’S 4X100 FREESTYLE RELAY

  • World Record: 3:29.69, Australia – 2021 Olympic Games
  • European Record: 3:31.72, Netherlands – 2009 World Championships
  • European Championship Record: 3:33.62, Netherlands – 2008
  • 2020 European Champion: Great Britain, 3:34.17

The Brits are the clear favorites in the 4×100 free, as they’ve got three of the top five seeds in the women’s 100 free in the form of Anna HopkinFreya Anderson and Lucy Hope.

All three swam on the World Championship relay where they finished fifth in 3:35.43, well clear of the next-best European country (Netherlands, 3:38.18).

The fourth member of that relay in Budapest, Abbie Wood, will be missing in Rome, so we’ll likely see them turn to Medi Harris, who outperformed Isabella Hindley in terms of freestyle splits at the Commonwealth Games.

The Netherlands has been a gold medal threat in this race for the better part of the last two decades—the Dutch have won a medal in eight of the last 10 editions of Euros—largely due to the presence of freestyle legends Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk. Both have recently retired, leaving the team with a weaker roster than years past, though it’s still one of the best in the continent.

Marrit Steenbergen had a career-best swim leading off the Dutch relay at Worlds (53.41), and Tessa GieleKim Busch and Valerie van Roon give them a solid quartet to work with, though it’s hard to see them being much faster than 3:38. Kira Toussaint could also be an option depending on her from.

Also making the final in Budapest was Hungary, who are led by a pair of 16-year-old rising stars in Nikoletta Padar and Dora MolnarFanni Gyurinovics and Petra Senanszky give them two sub-55 splits, and that might be all it takes to get on the podium.

France has two top-tier legs in Marie Wattel and Charlotte Bonnet, but the depth drops off after that.

For Italy, they have four swimmers this year in between 54.6 and 55.1, led by Silvia di Pietro, so we could see them in the 3:38-range and fighting for a medal as well.

Sweden is a bit of a dark horse, with Sarah Sjostrom not racing the individual 100 free but capable of being the fastest split in this field by a country kilometer. Louise Hansson and Sophie Hansson are also competing, and Sara Junevik will likely slide in the fourth spot. If Sjostrom fires off a 52-mid leading off, Sweden could cruise to the silver medal.

Slovenia is flying under the radar but has two swimmers seeded inside the top eight of the 100 free with Janja Segel and Neza Klancar. They’ve also got Katja Fain, who split 54.8 on the relay last year, but they’re missing a strong fourth leg.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Country 2022 Worlds Time (Finish) 2021 Euros Finish
1 Great Britain 5th (3:35.43) 1st
2 Sweden N/A 5th
3 Netherlands 7th (3:38.18) 2nd
4 Hungary 8th (3:38.20) 8th
5 Italy N/A 6th

WOMEN’S 4X200 FREESTYLE RELAY

  • World Record: 7:39.29, Australia – 2022 Commonwealth Games
  • European Record: 7:45.51, Great Britain – 2009 World Championships
  • European Championship Record: 7:50.53, Italy – 2014
  • 2020 European Champion: Great Britain, 7:53.15

The Brits cruised to a three-second victory last year in Budapest, and should be able to handily do so again.

However, we didn’t get to see them race the World Championship final this year as they scratched after placing eighth in the prelims.

But they bring a stacked lineup that is headlined by Freya Anderson, who finished fourth in the 200 free at Worlds and is the favorite for gold in the individual event at Euros.

Youngster Freya Colbert gives them a strong 1-2, having reset her best time down to 1:57.85 at the Commonwealth Games, and Lucy HopeHolly Hibbott and Tamryn Van Selm give them a few different options to fill out the finals squad.

The top Euro team at the World Championships was Hungary, who, even without Katinka Hosszu (who has only raced this relay a handful of times throughout her career due to her busy schedule), posted a respectable 7:57.90 for fifth.

As mentioned above, Nikoletta Padar is a rising star, and is a good bet for 1:57-high/1:58-low on a lead-off leg. Dora Molnar is right there, and they’ll likely be joined by Ajna Kesely and veteran Boglarka Kapas.

Italy has four swimmers seeded at 1:59 in the 200 free, so we should expect them right around the 7:58 range. They no longer have Federica Pellegrini to lean on, but should be in the mix for a top-five showing.

France placed fourth last year and bring back a similar roster that’s led by Charlotte Bonnet, the #2 seed in the individual race, and the Dutch are also lurking with Marrit Steenbergen highlighting that squad.

Poland placed sixth one year ago and are led by 21-year-old Aleksandra Polanska, who swam a best of 1:58.22 back in June.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Country 2022 Worlds Time (Finish) 2021 Euros Finish
1 Great Britain 7:59.87 (8th prelims, scratched final) 1st
2 Hungary 7:57.90 (5th) 2nd
3 France N/A 4th
4 Italy N/A 3rd
5 Netherlands N/A N/A

WOMEN’S 4X100 MEDLEY RELAY

  • World Record: 3:50.40, United States – 2019 World Championships
  • European Record: 3:53.38, Russia – 2017 World Championships
  • European Championship Record: 3:54.01, Great Britain – 2021
  • 2020 European Champion: Great Britain, 3:54.01

The entire Swedish team that finished fourth at the World Championships less than two months ago will be competing in Rome, with Hanna RosvallSophie HanssonLouise Hansson and Sarah Sjostrom.

Given that their breast, fly and free legs are at or at least near the fastest in the field in their respective 100-meter races, they’re a massive favorite for gold.

Sophie Hansson is the top seed in the 100 breast, Louise Hansson is the second seed in the 100 fly, and Sjostrom would be ranked first with a bullet if she was racing the 100 free. Rosvall may only be 17th in the 100 back, but she’s only a second outside of the top eight.

Great Britain was dominant at last year’s Europeans, winning by more than two seconds in 3:54.01, but that came with Kathleen Dawson blasting a European Record of 58.08 in the women’s 100 back on the lead-off leg.

They won’t have her in Rome—the top British backstroker is Medi Harris, who owns a best time of 59.24 from earlier this year. Imogen ClarkLaura Stephens and Freya Anderson are the frontrunners to fill in the remaining gaps, with last year’s breaststroker Molly Renshaw opting not to compete.

We didn’t get to see what this relay was capable of at Worlds after they were DQed in the prelims, so we’ll see if they have what it takes to challenge the Swedes at Euros.

The Netherlands, Italy and France also bring strong lineups to the mix, with each team having the same swimmers available that led them to respective finishes of fifth, seventh and eighth at the World Championships.

The Italians specifically should see an improvement relative to that relay in Budapest, as breaststroker Benedetta Pilato had a poor split, 1:07-flat, after winning the individual 100 breast in 1:05.93.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Country 2022 Worlds Time (Finish) 2021 Euros Finish
1 Sweden 3:55.96 (4th) 4th
2 Great Britain DQ 1st
3 Italy 3:58.86 (7th) 3rd
4 Netherlands 3:57.24 (5th) 5th
5 France 3:59.94 (8th) 10th

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About James Sutherland


James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism.

Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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