Sunday, 28 March 2010

CWG selection: British swimming championships to start on 29-Mar

Top British swimmers begin their fight for Commonwealth Games places when the British Championships open on Monday.

The event doubles as trials for 2010's European and Commonwealth meets, with GB stars like Rebecca Adlington, Gemma Spofforth and Liam Tancock in action.

Results in Sheffield will help decide who makes Britain's European squad and the home nations' Commonwealth teams.

(Click here to know about British swimmers selected for Commonwealth Games)

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are set to take place this October in Delhi, India, with the British Championships serving as the first qualifying event.

While the six-day championships themselves are not a major event, they act as a gateway to top international meets such as the Commonwealths - most British swimmers' focus in 2010 - and the European Long Course Championships, to be held in Hungary in August.

"This is part of the process of getting to the big competitions, and it's also a great opportunity to race against the fastest people in Britain," said Tancock.

"It's something you have to do, and you need to get a certain time or win your race or whatever, but it's always a cool meet - a nice meet. I really enjoy it."

The highlight of the championships is expected to be the three-way clash between double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, world silver medallist Jo Jackson and emerging force Jazmin Carlin in the women's freestyle events.

Adlington became a household name in Britain on the back of her 400m and 800m freestyle wins at the 2008 Beijing Games and is tipped to return to form after a less successful 2009 season.

Jackson's winter training has been marred by injury and illness, particularly the worsening of her asthma condition, while teenager Carlin defeated both of them over the 400m distance during the Great Britain v Germany meet in Swansea last month.
The trio are likely to clash in the finals of the 200m free on Monday, where Caitlin McClatchey could also feature, as well as the 800m free on Thursday and 400m free on Friday.

Gemma Spofforth, 100m backstroke world champion and world record holder, is expected to face a straight fight with close friend Lizzie Simmonds in that event's final on Wednesday, while the pair should also clash in the 200m backstroke on Friday.

Fran Halsall, who excelled at December's Duel in the Pool between a European team and the United States, winning three golds, is the woman to beat in the 100m free on the same day.
Though the balance of power in British swimming currently lies with the women, top GB men Tancock and David Davies should dominate in their events.

Backstroker Tancock goes in the 50m and 100m distances, while Davies is Britain's top male freestyle swimmer.

Michael Rock, who took advantage of controversial swimsuit regulations to defeat American legend Michael Phelps in the 200m fly at the Duel in the Pool, will expect victory over the same distance in Sheffield.

The ultra-fast, non-textile swimsuits that became the focus of much of 2009's competitive swimming have been banned since 1 January this year, restoring swimmers to textile-based suits.

"This event is a little more unknown than our swimmers are used to because it will be their first chance to get a peak performance with the new suit rule," said British head coach Dennis Pursley.

"The Australians have just had their trials so that will give our swimmers some times to aim towards.

"A lot of our coaches aim for early qualification in order to spend the rest of the year preparing for our benchmark event and I know a lot will be looking to gain early qualification for the Commonwealth Games.

"At a peak performance meet we always expect to see junior athletes step up and I have seen a couple of the younger swimmers in training over the past few months and I have been impressed with them. I would hope to see some breakthrough performances."

The selection process for the Commonwealths will be completed by the European Championships and individual English, Welsh and Scottish national trials at different dates in the summer. A separate process applies in Northern Ireland.


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