Race for women's 4x200m freestyle gold 'wide open'

Baku, June 27, AZERTAC

Great Britain's women's 4x200m freestyle relay team claim the competition is "wide open" for Saturday evening's final showdown with rivals Russia, Netherlands and Germany at the Baku Aquatics Centre.

Russia's second-string relay team qualified fifth behind leaders Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy, but will no doubt challenge for gold come the final, replacing the morning's line up with the likes of multiple gold medallist Arina Openysheva.

Darcy Deakin of Team GB said: "They (Russia) do have very good strength in depth, but over the 200m it seems that we have more depth than they have. So the competition is really wide open.

"In the 100m (freestyle relay) they are all going to go 56 (seconds), 55.5, whereas (in the 200m) they've got one swimmer, Arina (Openysheva), that can break two minutes, but quite a few of us can do that."

However, the same can be said for both the Netherlands and Germany, who will no doubt make use of their individual 200m freestyle silver and bronze medallists, Marrit Steenbergen and Leonie Kullmann, respectively, who are both capable of swimming sub-two minute times.

The men's 4x100m medley relay may pose less of a problem for Russia however, as they led comfortably in the heats with a time of 3:42.30, also without some of their main star swimmers.

Meanwhile, Israel's Ziv Kalontarov emerged the fastest man in the pool in the morning heats of the men's 50m freestyle, with a time of 22.62 seconds. Fan favourite Emre Sakci from Turkey was his closest challenger at 22.81, along with Italy's Giovanno Izzo.

In the women's 50m butterfly sprint, quadruple gold medallist Polina Egorova of Russia was quickest at 27.38, closely followed by the Netherlands' Josien Wijkhuijs and Jana Zinnecker of Germany.

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