Kazan: France retained their men`s 4x100m freestyle relay title at the world swimming championships on Sunday after holding off hosts Russia in the final`s dying stages.
The French quartet of Mehdy Metella, Florent Manaudou, Fabien Gilot and Jeremy Stravius clocked three minutes, 10.74 seconds as Russia finished just 0.45secs behind to claim silver with loud encouragement from the home crowd in Kazan.
Italy took bronze at 1.79secs back.
France`s achievement was all the more impressive as their team were without 200m freestyle world and Olympic champion Yannick Agnel, who is missing the championships as he recovers from pleurisy.
French anchor Stravius, a former 100m backstroke world champion, did a brilliant job as he held off his Russian rival Alexandr Sukhorukov to ensure France maintain their status as world and Olympic champions in the event.
For the first time in championships history there was no United States team in the final after the American quartet failed to qualify despite winning their morning heat.