Swim of the Week: Dutch Break Mixed Relay WR With Epic Come-From-Behind Victory

Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

In a finish you had to see to believe, the Netherlands broke the world record in the mixed 200 medley relay to close out the 2021 Short Course European Championships on Sunday, orchestrating an exciting comeback win in the process.

Opting to go with the non-traditional W/M/W/M lineup for the relay, the Dutch team found itself in sixth place with 50 meters to go in the event, trailing the leading teams from Russia and Italy by more than three seconds.

Anchor swimmer Thom de Boer then delivered one of the fastest freestyle legs in history, splitting 20.15 to narrowly run down Italy’s Silvia di Pietro and Russia’s Maria Kameneva and win gold by just over two-tenths of a second.

The quartet of Kira Toussaint (25.99), Arno Kamminga (25.54), Maaike de Waard (24.50) and de Boer combined for a time of 1:36.18, lowering the previous world record of 1:36.22 set by Russia in 2019.

Watch the anchor leg below (the Dutch team is in Lane 5):

Split Comparison

To get an idea of the flow of the race and the come-from-behind effort done by the Dutch, here’s a look at the splits (and running time) of the three medal-winning countries.

Netherlands Italy Russia
Kira Toussaint – 25.99 Michele Lamberti – 22.72 Kliment Kolesnikov – 22.47
Arno Kamminga – 25.54 (51.53) Nicolo Martinenghi – 25.13 (47.85) Oleg Kostin – 25.58 (48.05)
Maaike de Waard – 24.50 (1:16.03) Elena Di Liddo – 25.09 (1:12.94) Arina Surkova – 24.88 (1:12.93)
Thom de Boer – 20.15 (1:36.18) Silvia Di Pietro – 23.45 (1:36.39) Maria Kameneva – 23.49 (1:36.42)

The previous world record—which actually included three of the same four members of the Russian team that won bronze—also employed the traditional M/M/W/W lineup that both Italy and Russia used in Kazan.

New WR Old WR
Toussaint – 25.99
Kolesnikov – 22.67
Kamminga – 25.54 Morozov – 25.40
de Waard – 24.50 Surkova – 24.94
de Boer – 20.15
Kameneva – 23.21
1:36.18 1:36.22

All four Dutch swimmers had to be at or near their best to make the gold medal and world record happen.

Toussaint was two-tenths off her gold medal-winning time from the individual 50 back (25.79), Kamminga was a few one-hundredths slower than his split in the men’s medley relay final (25.48), and de Waard was slightly faster than she was on the women’s medley (24.58).

de Boer was the swimmer that showed the biggest improvement, splitting almost two-tenths faster than he did in the men’s medley relay final (20.32).

In the individual 50 free, de Boer was extremely consistent, with all three of his swims coming between 20.97 and 21.02. The fact that he had three relay splits 20.46 or better, all coming in finals, showed just how big of a relay performer he was in Kazan.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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