The final full day of the 2012 British Olympic Trials (the men’s 1500 and women’s 50 finals are yet to come on Saturday) ended with a bang, as two of the country’s most popular swimmers were in action.
First up, Lizzie Simmonds sealed up a spot on the Olympic team in the 200 back in 2:08.67. That was well under the time required to qualify for the Olympics as the event winner. She overall has had a disappointing meet, though the door was wide open for her to grab a spot in the 100 back as well, but has to be pleased to escape with a spot on the Olympic roster.
Stephanie Proud and Karley Mann (the latter only 17 years old) had good swims in 2:09.94 and 2:10.57, respectively, but that left them outside of the required qualifying time. They, along with a slew of other young swimmers, will take another run at the 2:09.14 needed at June’s ASA Championships. Both swimmers have a great shot at making the mark: Proud has been under the standard twice in textile (both in 2010), and Mann is improving by leaps-and-bounds still.
A swimmer who is unlikely to take a run in June is Florida-trained Gemma Spofforth. She really punted this final away with a 6th-place finish in 2:13.67, which is well off of both her time from the semis as well as what she’s capable of. With the Gregg Troy “taper once” theory pushing her, she’s probably settled with her spot in the 100.
In the other women’s final of the day, Rebecca Adlington reminded fans why she’s the most popular distance swimmer in the world. She roared to a win in 8:18.54 (including a 4:07 opening 400 meters), which is clearly the best time in the world this year. That also stands as a British Nationals Meet Record
That time is within a second of the one that she won the World Championship with last year. Adlington has developed an uncanny knack (especially among distance swimmers) to swim incredible in-season times, and still chop off big three-second chunks at year’s end (something only Lotte Friis pulls off among her competitors).
Not to be overlooked in 2nd was Sheffield teenager Eleanor Faulkner in 8:27.11, which is the second-best time in the world in 2012. The nearly 9-second gap highlights the dominance of Adlington’s swim. Faulkner has always been a good swimmer, but only in the past year has she really exploded – taking her best time in this event from an 8:46 to an 8:27 in 12 months.
Michael Rock locked up his spot back in this pool in late July with a 52.02 win in the men’s 100 fly. It wasn’t surprising that he qualified, but it was a bit of a leap that he was able to handle the qualifying mark so easily. He’s been in a huge slump for the past year – with some beginning to wonder if he was a “suit” swimmer. That time is the fastest in the world this year.
Jack Marriott (52.49) and Antony James (52.59) were 2nd-and-3rd. They will have to drop exactly three-and-four tenths, respectively, in June to make the team. The Brits are really building some young depth in this race – a pair of 19-year olds (Timm Braxston and Adam Barrett) both swam 53.0’s in the final as well.
And the men’s 50 free final went about like the 100 – with no swimmers approaching the qualifying standard. Former Auburn sprinter Adam Brown marked a 22.49 for the win. He’ll likely give this race another attempt in June, as he was under the 22.11 qualifying mark at last year’s World Championships.
Craig Gibbons took 2nd in 22.56, and Simon Burnett was 3rd in 22.59. Another Auburn Tiger, the younger James Disney-May, was tied for 6th in 22.96.
Fran Halsall marked what was easily the world’s fastest 50 free time in the lone Friday semi-final (until it was broken later in the meet). She swam a 24.63 to easily clear the field and should have no trouble locking down a third individual swim for the Olympics. Amy Smith took runner-up position in 25.05. For now, that would be good enough to also earn another individual invite (she’s already got one in the 100), but she’ll have to prove it in finals with another equally-good swim, as only finals marks count for individual qualifying.
The only significant swims to come out of the Guest finals at the end of the session was a 24.49 in the women’s 50 free from Marleen Veldhuis. That’s the best time in the world this year (pending whatever Halsasll goes in Saturday’s final). Despite being 32-years old, Veldhuis is doing some of the best sprinting of her life right now.
Jolie Sysmans of Belgium took 2nd in 25.47, which is within a tenth of her National Record. Like Veldhuis, she’s been resurgent in the last few months – that National Record has stood since 2008 when she was only 16. Hinkelien Schreuder took 3rd in 25.59, and 4th-place went to Brazilian Alessandra Marchioro in 25.64.
Marchioro stands 6’2 and swims purely on talent; leaving Brazilian fans lamenting over how she could be molded in the hands of a capable sprint coach.