German swimmer Britta Steffen held off two male competitors during the anchor leg of the first 4x50m co-ed medley relay in Dubai on Tuesday to help her team win the event’s World Cup debut.
The race also got a lot of people excited about the future of mixed-gender races eventually coming to the world championships and the Olympics.
“It was really fun, especially since some of the guys were swimming against all girls and some of the girls against guys,” Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, whose team finished second, told the AP. “I think it will be more interesting… The race will change faster.”
Germany finished in 1:43.21, winning by more than two seconds by using Steffen, who owns the 50m free world record, as the anchor. Teams can use their two men and two women in whatever order they chose, so most put their fastest male free swimmer last. Steffen’s performance supports the idea that having women swim the final leg might be the smartest strategy.
“It was also good to see what I can do under pressure against the men,” Steffen said after the race. There’s a 4x50m freestyle mixed relay scheduled for Wednesday, and we’d guess she’ll give the Germans a good shot of winning that as well.