Swimming: Adlington guides Britain to relay bronze

Quartet banish Beijing blues but there's no beating record-breaking Chinese
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Great Britain's 4x200m freestyle relay squad won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Rome last night. The British quartet touched in 7min 45.51sec, a new European record to claim the country's fourth medal in the pool at the Foro Italico.

Rebecca Adlington swam the final leg to bring the British women – Jo Jackson, Jazmin Carlin and Caitlin McClatchey made up the team – home behind China, who finished in a world record time of seven minutes 42.08 seconds, and the USA. Olympic champions Australia could only manage fifth. The quartet of Yang Yu, Zhu Qian Wei, Liu Jing and Pang Jiaying took more than two seconds off Australia's mark set at the Beijing Olympics. The Chinese team led for most of the race but they had to hang on after the US, the defending world champions, staged a strong bid to reel them in, with Allison Schmitt pushing hard on the closing straight.

The bronze helped the British squad exorcise the demons of Beijing when an under-strength quartet failed to make it through the heats. Adlington said: "All of us gave 110 per cent and we did better than we did last year. It's just been brilliant."

Jo Jackson, silver medallist in the 400m freestyle, led the team off and said: "We knew it would be tough out there, there was a lot of good teams. But I thought we did a great performance, a great team effort. We got a massive PB and a British and European record. We did awesome and we are all really proud of each other."

Brazil's Cesar Cielo Filho smashed the world record to snatch gold in the men's 100m freestyle final. The Brazilian swam 46.91sec to beat the absent Eamon Sullivan's Beijing Olympic time of 47.05. Olympic champion Alain Bernard was second with French compatriot Frederick Bousquet third. "I think the three of us took swimming to a new level. I did it," Filho said.

Bernard was the first to break the 47-second barrier at the French championships in April but his time was not ratified because his hi-tech swimsuit was not approved. Polyurethane suits will be banned from next year after controversy over the scores of world records they have prompted.

China's Zhao Jing took gold in the women's 50m backstroke – with the inevitable world record. And there was another for Australia's Jessicah Schipper, who retained her 200m butterfly title. "I'm so excited with the race," Schipper said. "It's a great time and it's going to take a long time to sink in."