'Pure chaos': Swimming world erupts over mixed medley relay

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Seen here, Britain's James Guy celebrates a gold in the mixed medley relay.
Britain's James Guy celebrates after his team wins gold in the mixed medley relay. Pic: Getty

The swimming world may well have found its new favourite event, after a world record tumbled and chaos ensued in the inaugural Olympic 4x100m mixed medley relay final on Saturday.

With two males and two female swimmers making up the four-member teams (swimming one leg each), the event promised drama in Tokyo and Saturday's final delivered in spades.

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The British team smashed the world record to win the inaugural final of the relay, after it was introduced to the Games for the first time in Tokyo.

The four-strong mixed relay team of Kathleen Dawson, Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin touched in 3min 37.58sec to break the previous world record of 3:38.41 set by China in Qingdao last year.

The Chinese were second in 3:38.86 and Australia third in 3:38.95. 

The Aussies selected Kaylee McKeown, who had earlier won gold in the 200m backstroke to kick off proceedings, followed by Zac Stubblety-Cook (breaststroke), Matt Temple (butterfly) and Emma McKeon (freestyle).

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Speaking after the race, McKeon said the mixed-gender format and the different strategies each team took about who would swim what leg, made for a crazy race.

“A mixed relay you don’t know where you’re sitting. I knew the girl on the other side of me from the Netherlands, she was going last in freestyle so I knew I could kind of go off her rather than focusing on Dressel coming up behind me.”

Adding to the drama, United States swimmer Lydia Jacoby lost her goggles immediately after diving into the pool to undertake her breaststroke leg.

Fans described it a "nightmare" scenario that the USA never seemed to recover from - despite being anchored by superstar Caeleb Dressel, who had earlier broken a world record to win gold in the 100m butterfly.

Fans go wild for mixed medley relay

The United States were surprisingly relegated to fifth spot in the final.

Watching the chaos unfold live, viewers were left gobsmacked by the hectic format of the race.

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Great Britain smash world record

Adam Peaty said it was "inspiring" to be part of the British swimming team that smashed the world record to win gold.

Britain have now won seven swimming medals in Tokyo, including four golds, two silvers and a bronze, matching their greatest ever medal haul at an Olympics, last achieved in 1908.

"It's incredible," said Peaty, who could help Britain win an eighth medal in the men's 4x100m medley relay on Sunday.

"It's more inspiring to be part of this team than anything could ever be.

"British swimming has flipped over. We deliver the goods and get the plane flying but there is a whole orchestra of people behind it."

The mixed relay was one of three swimming events debuting in Japan, along with the men's 800m freestyle and women's 1500m freestyle, and has been a huge success.

Pictured here, American Lydia Jacoby had to swim her breaststroke leg with her goggles in her mouth.
American Lydia Jacoby had to swim her breaststroke leg with her goggles in her mouth after they fell off when she dived in. Pic: Getty

Teams comprised two women and two men, with each of the four swimmers allocated to one of the four traditional medley strokes - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Britain chose to lead off with Dawson, up against American backstroke giant Ryan Murphy and Australia's Kaylee McKeown, who won the 200m individual title minutes earlier.

Peaty, who won 100m breaststroke gold in Tokyo, took up the baton in sixth and climbed two places before Guy jumped in.

Guy swam a storming butterfly leg to take the lead and Hopkin brought it home ahead of China's Yang Junxuan, Australian 100m freestyle champion Emma McKeon and a chasing Dressel.

with agencies

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