Team GB was really a team here in Budapest, by adding two more relay titles – clinched 7 in 9 events – they finished atop in the medal charts with 11 golds. Italy earned the most medals, 27, and also claimed the Team Trophy – in the closing day their female stars brought three more golds, including Simona Quadarella’s win in the 400m free as she completed the long-distance treble once more after Glasgow 2018. Russia’s Ilya Borodin was crowned in the 400m IM becoming the first champion outside of Hungary since 2002. Finland did great and took a gold and a silver in the dash events, Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo achieved the 50m free50m fly combo while Hungary’s Kristof Milak did his first senior 100-200m fly double at the Europeans.
The three dash finals went to three different nations. The women’s events brought the expected results as Ranomi Kromowidjojo won the fly race (after the 50m free) – though it was only the third occasion in 12 editions (since 1999, when this event made its debut) when not a Swedish hit the wall first.
In the breaststroke Benedetta Pilato validated her golden ticket: after cracking the WR in the semis, the young Italian pulled off a fine win the final, she was 0.05sec off her Saturday pace but she still swam inside Lilly King’s 2017 mark. Here the hunt for the minor spoils was pretty tight, three hit the wall in 0.04sec, Finland’s Ida Hulkko had the luckiest touch, ahead of titleholder Yuliya Efimova.
By then the Finns were flying high as Ari-Pekka Liukkonen stunned the field in the 50m free to touch in first, 0.08sec ahead of title-holder Ben Proud of Great Britain. Liukkonen had a bronze from 2014, now he earned his biggest success and a first title for Finland since Jere Hard stood on the top of the podium in Berlin 2002 (in the 50m fly).
Next came Hungary’s wonder kid Kristof Milak who has been ruling the 200m fly since 2018 but now he gained some speed for the 100m too and made his first double at a major senior championship and also set a new CR. In fact, Milak made his international breakthrough in this pool at the 2017 Worlds by earning a silver in the 100m – now he won gold and has serious plans for Tokyo in this event too.
Italy’s Margherita Panziera may have been lucky to clinch a silver in the reswum of the 100m back final (finished 4th in the first) – but in the 200m she left no doubt and retained her title with a convincing performance.
The men’s 400m IM saw the longest ‘national’ winning streak in the new millennium thanks two Hungarian greats Laszlo Cseh (2004-2012) and David Verraszto (2014-18) who had claimed gold in the past 8 editions – earlier only the East German women had such stronghold in a couple of events (10 straight titles in the 100m free, 8 on other four). Now this came to an end: though Verraszto qualified first from the morning heats, he was unable to increase his speed in the evening. He had been already the oldest ever to win this event in Glasgow, now at the age of 33 he couldn’t keep on with upcoming Russian, 18 years old Ilya Borodin and Italy’s new face Alberto Razzetti. What’s more, Britain’s Max Litchfield also passed him, leaving the Hungarians without a medal in this event for the first time since 1999.
In the last individual final Simona Quadarella completed the 400-800-1500 treble – something which always happened at the last three editions. In London 2016 Boglarka Kapas won all three (now she finished third), three years ago Quadarella did it and now she could repeat the feat once more. In Glasgow this was her hardest race, her winning margin was 0.22sec, now it was more comfortable as she gained 1.39sec on Russia’s Anna Egorova.
The traditional ending of the swimming competition, the two medley relays brought identical results: Great Britain won both, the Russians came runnersup and Italy bagged the bronze medals. The Brits set CRs in both events, the men won by 0.91sec, the women by 2.24sec, leaving little excitements. And leaving no rooms for the others – no nations had been so dominant in the relays as the Brits were here in Budapest. They claimed 7 titles in 9 events, only the Russian men could grab golds, in the men’s free relays (where GB was runner-up).
So the relays contributed a great deal to the Brits’ triumphant march as they top the medal charts with 11 titles, ahead of the Russians who got 9. Italy and Hungary won 5 apiece but the Italians had a lot more from silver and bronze, claimed a total of 27 medals (though only their female swimmers could come first) and finished atop in the Team Trophy once more after 2016 (Russia clinched it in 2018).
Britain’s Adam Peaty made the 4×4 by being part of Britain’s medley relay – won 4 golds for the fourth time in as many editions, and in as many events he entered. No one has ever had such a winning edge at the Europeans: 16 entries, 16 titles. And counting.