Great Britain Shatters History With Men’s 800 Free Relay Gold


The men’s 4x200m freestyle relay final here in Tokyo broke new ground on a number of historic fronts, as the nation of Great Britain took home the gold in a near-world record mark of 6:58.58.

The combination of Tom Dean, James Guy, Matt Richards and Duncan Scott powered their way to the wall first to beat out runners-up Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Australians who took silver and bronze in time s of 7:01.81 and 7:01.84, respectively.

The Britons’ collective 6:58.58 time here in Tokyoultimately fell only .03 shy of the current WR standard of 6:58.55, a result USA put on the books at the supersuited 2009 World Championships.

Here in Tokyo, the newly-minted individual 200m free gold medalist Dean led-off in a solid 1:45.72 with all of the splits as follows for the winners:

Dean – 1:45.72
Guy – 1:44.40
Richards – 1:45.01
Scott – 1:43.45

Of note, Richards dropped out of the men’s individual 100m freestyle event heats last night in order to preserve energy for this relay and it appears that was the correct decision for what it took to put up this kind of team time.

Going back to Scott, his scorcher of an anchor not only further distanced GBR from the field to sure gold by over 3 seconds, but his final leg now registers as the 5th fastest relay split in history.

  1. Paul Biedermann, Germany, 2009 Worlds – 1:42.81
  2. Sun Yang, China, 2013 Worlds – 1:43.16
  3. Yannick Agnel, France, 2012 Olympics – 1:43.24
  4. Michael Phelps, United States, 2008 Olympics – 1:43.31
  5. Duncan Scott, GB, Tokyo 2020 Olympics – 1:43.45

For comparison, the existing world record splits include:

1:44.49 for Michael Phelps
1:44.13 for Ricky Berens,
1:45.47 for David Walters
1:44.46 for Ryan Lochte

In terms of history, Great Britain took silver in this event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and followed that up with gold at the 2017 FINA World Championships, so they had the resume credentials to make a run at the gold and WR.

However, it has not been since 1908 that an Olympic gold was brought home to GBR in this men’s 800m free relay, so these men accomplished knocking down an over-century-old barrier. On the other side of the spectrum, the United States has never gone medal-less in this men’s 4×2 at an Olympic Games, save for the 1980 boycotted Games in Moscow, Russia.

En route to grabbing gold here, the British foursome brought down their own national record in a big way, hacking more than 3 seconds off of the 7:01.70 they put on the books in Budapest. The squad there at those World Championships looked halfway different, with only Scott and Guy carrying over.

Splits for the previous GBR national record of 7:01.70 included 1:47.25 for Stephen Milne, 1:46.05 for Nick Grainger, 1:44.60 for Scott and 1:43.80 for Guy.

The Dean/Guy/Richards/Scott combination also overwrote the European Record of 6:59.15 Russia logged at the supersuited 2009 World Championships when they placed 2nd behind the aforementioned Phelps-led American squad.

Splits for the previous Europan Record included the following:

Nikita Lobintsev – 1:45.10
Mikhail Polischuk – 1:45.42
Danila Izotov – 1:44.48
Alexander Sukhorukov – 1:44.15

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1 year ago

You have to feel sorry for Scott. Take nothing away from Tom Dean as he got his hand on the wall first when it really mattered but I think Scott is the best 200m freestyler in the world right now..

Really hope Scott wins the IM

Reply to  CSWIM
1 year ago

I just wonder what Scott would have delivered had he been in Deans lane. Take nothing from Dean or Scheffer, but boy did the South Korean do them a huge favour. Both approx 1sec faster when next to him compared to the average of their other three swims. Shades of Chalmers + Timmers 2016. I hope Scott takes 200IM but can see the fatigue getting to him by the final a la 2019 =(

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
1 year ago

Agonisingly close to the WR for GB.

Tom Dean shouldn’t get too down on his leg. After all, that WR would be at least a second quicker if the GOAT himself swam the sort of lead off that he was capable of.

1 year ago

Congratulations to GBR on a superb relay performance. It’s a pity that tech suit WR wasn’t broken. Tom Dean swam quite a bit slower than expected. He’ll be kicking himself. A few of the Russian and Australian men selected for this relay have been struggling but the teams they put up for the final were pretty decent. What can you say about the USA? Zach Apple looked absolutely shattered after his disastrous leg. You don’t want to see anyone so disappointed at the Olympics. His leg will be talked about in the same way that many still talk about Ian Crocker’s horror leg in the 4X100FS in Athens.

Daeleb Creseel
1 year ago

he was actually not. all his mates were saying they were gutted to miss that WR, while Dean did not mention a word abt WR but only said GBR was gonna get the Gold having world no1 me and no2 Scott on team.

1 year ago

Only just realised Scott went 1.43.4 with a .6 takeover 😳 So pumped for his IM

Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

Nah, the RTs on the website are inaccurate. Have a look at the PDF instead.

1 year ago

All the 4th swimmer reaction times were huge (0.6-0.8 seconds), can we really trust the timing system in Tokyo???

1 year ago

Agonizingly close to shattering the supersuited WR too😩

Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Tom Dean won two golds.

When was the last time a British swimmer won two golds at the Olympics?

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago


Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Becky adlington 2008

Last edited 1 year ago by Yoo
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Duncan scott is about to win 3 or more

Daeleb Creseel
1 year ago

very disappointed at Dean

Reply to  Daeleb Creseel
1 year ago

5 200m freestyles in 4 days, you can’t really blame him, GB should’ve rested him in the heats and put one of the litchfields in.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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