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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 09:21 GMT
European Swimming Ch'ships day six
BBC Radio 5 Live's Bob Ballard
At the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven

Italy's victorious
Italy's victorious men's 4x200m freestyle relay team

One of Britain's best medal prospects for the Olympic Games in Beijing is, undoubtedly, the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

Like the women's event the depth for the men is impressive, but the quartet in Eindhoven could not quite pull off a medal this time - and what will stick in the craw every more is that it is the Italians who have picked up the gold once more.

They have been the GB nemesis for many years now and have been once again.

Russia could call upon 400m and 1500m freestyle champion Yuri Prilukov on their anchor leg, and Dominik Koll gave the third placed Austrians a flying start, as he had done in the heats.

There were echoes of the Commonwealth Games for England two years ago, when Ross Davenport nearly pulled out a spectacular last 200m, but the job left to be completed after David Carry, Andrew Hunter and Euan Dale had finished, was just outside his compass.

Do not be too downhearted and strike that medal possibility off your list - it's still a very real one. A lot will depend on what kind of shape Simon Burnett is in come August, because the backbone of the team is sound, and Davenport posted the third fastest split of any team.

On the evidence of Eindhoven though, the women have moved up the pecking order where the 4x200m freestyle chances for China are concerned.

The Alain Bernard show continues with the promise of still more to come.

The 24-year-old Frenchman is having a week that most swimmers can only dream of. Having set new world records twice in the space of 24 hours in the 100m freestyle - he has also gone on to break Eamon Sullivan's five-week-old record in the 50m.

Thomas Daley and Blake Aldridge
GB's Daley and Aldridge were sadly not on form

Bernard bettered the Australian's mark of 21.56 seconds by six one hundredths of a second.

What is he capable of in the final?

A special mention is required for Markus Rogan. Europe's top backstroker added the 200m title to the 100m he won earlier in the week, and he will be one of the main attractions at the World Short Championships in Manchester which start on 10 April.

What is more he does not see it as a chore - it is something he is genuinely looking forward to.

The Austrian, who went to University in America, says he will retire after Beijing at the advanced age of 26, which I think is a huge waste and he does not intend to be involved in any capacity once he hangs his goggles up in August.

And with the Olympics very much in mind, 13-year-old Thomas Daley, of whom you have heard and seen lots since the turn of the year, partnered Blake Aldridge, a man almost twice his age, in a 10m synchronised diving event in which the British pair had hoped to get a medal.

Sadly the other main pairings raised their games - whilst Daley and Aldridge were not in synch often enough and ended up sixth out of eight teams.

Young Thomas will want to avenge that with a better individual display on Monday.

Davies wins European silver medal
22 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB women break record for silver
21 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Davies in tough Olympic warm-up
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day two
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day one
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB swimmers prepare for Eindhoven
07 Mar 08 |  Swimming


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