Britain pip Russia on first night of swimming action

Baku, June 24, AZERTAC

British women Abbie Wood and Holly Hibbott and the men's freestyle 4x100 team all captured gold medals on swimming's first day. The hotly tipped Russians put up two golden finishes and swimmers from Germany and Ukraine picked up one gold each.

Wood, 16, clinched the first Baku 2015 Swimming gold, winning the women's 400m individual medley in 4 minutes 41.97 seconds.

Ilaria Cusinato of Italy got silver, 2 seconds behind Wood. Anja Crevar of Serbia took the bronze.

"I'm so excited, it's just surreal," Wood said afterwards.

Hibbott's gold came in the 800m freestyle, after overhauling Russian rival Anastasiia Kirpchnikova in the last two of the 16 lengths to finish in 8:39.02. Marina Castro Atalaya of Spain took the bronze.

The men's 4x100m freestyle relay went to Great Britain's Duncan Scott, Martyn Walton, Daniel Speers and Cameron Kurle, who said they "put everything on the line" to lead from start to finish for gold in 3:19.38.

Italy pushed the fancied Russians into the bronze position and pressed Britain hard on their way to silver.

Germany's 18-year-old Paul Hentschel, who had qualified for the final in seventh, won the 400m free in 3:52.43, shocking even himself as he left Dimitrios Dimitriou with the silver and Ernest Maksumov of Russia with bronze.

"It's the first time I've won from lane one," said an amazed Hentschel.

There was to be no upset in the women's 50m breaststroke, however, as Maria Astashkina, four-times gold medallist at the European junior championships in 2014, forged ahead over the second half of the race to win easily in 31.58. "It's cool but I expected it," said a confident Astashinka. "I had no rivals. My only enemy was time."

Arina Openysheva won the first of what could become a seven-gold haul as she swam the opening leg in the Russian women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay victory, setting up the gold for her team-mates Vasilissa Buinaia, Olesia Cherniatina and Mariia Kameneva in 3:43.63.

The Netherlands took the silver, Great Britain the bronze.

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