Russia reached the 50 gold medal milestone after victory in the mixed team 4x100m freestyle relay ©Getty Images

Russia reached the 50 gold medal mark at the Baku 2015 European Games after their swimmers claimed half of the eight gold medals on offer here tonight.

Arina Openysheva has been billed as a “mini Michael Phelps” due to her packed schedule of events at the Games and the 16-year-old earned her second gold medal in the women’s 400 metres freestyle, having been part of Russia’s victorious 4x100m women's relay team yesterday.

The 16-year-old powered into an early lead and never relinquished it as she touched home in 4min 08.81sec to finish 3.35 seconds clear of silver medallist Leonie Kullmann of Germany, while her fellow Russian Anastasiia Kirpichnikova finished 0.05 ahead of Britain's Holly Hibbott to take the bronze.

Openysheva, a seven-time European junior champion, was prevented from winning her second gold in as many races after finishing 0.48 behind The Netherlands’ Marrit Steenbergen in the women's 100m freestyle.

The Dutchwoman produced a fine display to earn gold in 53.97sec, while the Czech Republic’s Mariia Kameneva took bronze, posting a time of 55.19.

Russia’s dominance in the pool was restored in the men’s 200m breaststroke as Anton Chupkov led home a one-two with Kirill Mordashev as they finished in 2:10.85 and 2:12.94 respectively, and Britain’s Luke Davies took bronze after touching the wall in 2:13.45.

Russia's supremacy at swimming in the European Games bodes well for their future prospects at major championships, with their young athletes clearly the strongest force here in the pool.

Only junior athletes are taking part in the European Games after Baku 2015 were unable to reach an agreement with key bodies to add the event into an already busy swimming schedule, but were able to come to the compromise option of allowing the under-17 athletes to take part.

Arina Openysheva's pursuit of eight gold medals came to an end with a silver in the women's 100m freestyle
Arina Openysheva's pursuit of eight gold medals came to an end with a silver in the women's 100m freestyle ©Getty Images

Egorova Polina added to the Russian gold medal tally in the women’s 200m backstroke, leading from the halfway mark to take the victory in 2:11.23, having fought off the challenge of the fast-finishing Maxine Wolters.

The German was just 0.15 behind the winner but was forced to settle for bronze, while Ukraine’s Maryna Kolesnykova claimed bronze in 2:11.91.

Polina’s triumph left Russia one win away from securing their 50th gold medal of the inaugural European Games and their quartet of Vladislav Kozlov, Elisei Stepanov, Mariia Kamenva and Openysheva duly achieved it in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay.

They trailed Britain at after the opening two legs but the Russian team were able to increase the pace and moved away to take gold in 3:30.30.

Britain held onto second in 3:32.65 and Germany a further second back in third.

Luke Greenbank earned Britain's fourth swimming gold
Luke Greenbank earned Britain's fourth swimming gold ©Getty Images

"The idea of men and women competing together in swimming is a good one and it would be good to see more competitions like this,” Stepanov said afterwards.

“Why not?

"We have strong men and women athletes."

The opening night of the swimming had seen Britain earn three golds and Luke Greenbank added to the British haul in the pool, narrowly beating Russia’s Fillip Shopin to the finish by just 0.05, sealing the men’s 100m backstroke title in 54.76.

There was a surprise in the women's 200m butterfly final as Spain’s Carmen Balbuena Heredia, heavily tipped as the favourite, could only finish fourth with Germany’s Julia Mrozinski taking the title in 2:11.19 ahead of Italy’s Elisa Scarpa Vidal by 1.08.

France’s Nicholas D’Oriano claimed gold in the men’s 1500m freestyle event in 15:13.31, with Russia’s Ernest Maksumov a close second in 15:13.90.

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