Britain's men's 4x100m team celebrate winning the third of their country's golds on the first day of swimming at the European Games ©Getty Images

Russia may be the big battalion in the European Games swimming, but Britain ruled the pool on the first day of competition as they won three of the seven golds on offer thanks to Abbie Wood in the opening women’s 4x100 metres individual medley, Holly Hibbott in the 800m freestyle and the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team.

However, the expected Russian gold standard was maintained in the women’s 50m breaststroke thanks to their multiple European junior champion Maria Astashkina, and in the concluding women’s 4x100 freestyle relay.

The other golds on the day went to Ukraine’s Andrii Khloptsov, who won the men’s 50m butterfly in 23.92sec, and Germany’s Paul Hentschel, who won the men’s 400m freestyle in 3min 52.43sec.

All the swimming at Baku 2015 is at junior level as the Games organisers were unable to reach an agreement with key bodies to add the event into an already busy swimming schedule, including competitions such as the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships, which are set to be held in Kazan next month.

Wood’s face, as she took off her goggles, testified to her joy at becoming the first ever European Games swimming champion.

The 16-year-old from Buxton, winner of two golds and two silvers at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival, was the fastest qualifier, and she finished a long way clear in 4:41.97, with Italy’s Ilaria Cusinato taking silver in 4:44.01 and bronze going to Anja Crevar of Serbia in 4:45.84.

“It’s my first European medal so I’m really excited about it,” Wood said.

“It’s a surreal feeling.

“I was pretty confident from the heats but it hurt so I wasn’t sure if I could go any faster.

"Yet I knew everyone would step it up for the final so I had to as well and the pressure was on.”

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Britain's Holly Hibbott was taken aback to see she had won European Games gold in the 800m freestyle ©Getty Images

Hibbott, a 15-year-old from Southport who won a silver medal at the last European Junior Championships. kept pace with the rest of the field for much of the race before pulling clear in the final 100m of her 800m fastest heat, holding off Russia’s Anastasiia Kirpichnikova in the final few metres to win gold in 8:39.02.

Spain’s Marina Castro Atalaya claimed the bronze.

“I didn’t really expect to win gold but I was hoping that I could do it,” said Hibbott.

“I saw Abbie earlier and she did really well I was so happy for her.

“I think this is definitely the highlight of my career so far and it inspires me to go on in the future and do more.

“I’ve got world juniors at the end of August so I’ll go out there and see what I can do and then look ahead to [Tokyo] 2020 but for now it would be nice to add more medals here in Baku.”

Britain’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of Duncan Scott, Martyn Walton, Dan Speers and Cameron Kurle led from the off and came home to take gold in 3:19.38 ahead of Italy and Russia, who won silver and bronze respectively.

“It’s a great first night with three gold medals and a bronze and we are really happy with that as a team,” said Walton.

Astashkina was untouchable in the women's 50m breaststroke, which she won as expected in 31.58, with Laura Kelsch of Germany taking silver in 31.87 and bronze going to France's Nolwenn Herve in 32.08.

Russia’s second gold of the night came in the women’s 4x100m relay, where their quartet came home easily in 3:43.63 ahead of the Netherlands (3:44.10) and Britain (3:45.80).

Khloptsov claimed the gold for Ukraine in the men’s 50m butterfly ahead of Poland’s Pawel Sendyk in 23.97 and one of Russia’s star men, Daniil Pakhomov, the 16-year-old who is the fastest junior butterfly swimmer in Europe.

Pakhomov clocked 24.02.

"I am a little short-sighted,” said the normally bespectacled Khloptsov.

“But I can still see the big screen. I didn't know if I had won or not but looked up and saw me and realised I had won."

Hentschel of Germany, commented after his men’s 400m freestyle win:  “In the first heats it was already a personal record, faster than one second, so I never expected to go so fast and win this race."

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