This week, British Swimming will host their ASA National Championships in Sheffield. These National Championships, not to be confused with March’s World Championship Trials, will be used to fill in the remaining spots for the World Championships in Shanghai. All event champions from the Trials in March, presuming they were FINA A-standards, earned automatic spots on the World Champs teams. The runners-up at that meet also earned automatic qualifying spots, presuming they surpassed standards set by British Swimming that correlate to the top 16 in the world as of October 2010 (ignoring more than two swimmers per nation). Effectively, these standards represent an expectation of what it will take to semi-final at World’s.
Despite the more assured path to World’s coming from the first trials in March, the British Swimmers were on fire today, and most event winners put up season-best times on day 1.
On the first leg of the 2011 British World Championship Trials, which were held back in March, teenager Ellen Gandy took the title in 57.68, which guaranteed her selection for the World Championships. Content with that performance, she sat the race out at the ASA Nationals. Fran Halsall was 2nd at that meet in 58.99, just six weeks off of an ankle injury that left her barely able to walk just six weeks before. While that time was a triumph for her mentally, it was not enough to beat the standards that British Swimming set out for 2nd-qualifiers. That meant that the winner of the 100 fly at these ASA National Championships would earn the second position in Shanghai. Jemma Lowe and Fran Halsall were both gunning for that spot, and it showed in their performances.
Halsall, the sprinter of the two, went out hard early, but Lowe came back even harder to take the win by just .01 seconds: 57.43-57.44. That means that she has earned a spot to swim the 100 fly at the World Championships. Incidentally, that gives the pair the 4th-and-5th-best times in the world this year, respectively, and gives Britain three of the eight best 100 butterfliers in the world from 2011. Having that many swimmers ranked that highly in an event is another big step for British Swimming, as they can’t even boast such rankings in the backstroke races where they excel so much.
In the women’s 100 back, with both World’s spots already locked up (and her partner in crime Gemma Spofforth back stateside competing at the Santa Clara Grand Prix), Elizabeth Simmonds was racing only for hardware and demonstrations of fitness, which are missions she successfully accomplished. She took the title in 59.86, which puts her 5th in the world this year.
In the men’s 400 free, Robbie Renwick, who I think could be a surprise finalist at world’s, posted a 3:48.60 winning time to earn his bid to World’s. That cleared his mark from the Trials by over three seconds and pushed him to 11th in the world rankings. He used a great closing kick to surpass runner-up David Carry in 3:49.42 (17th in the world rankings). Carry’s time also just barely cleared the FINA A-time, which gives him the second spot for World’s.
Rebecca Adlington secured one spot in the women’s 200 free at March’s World Championships, and Joanne Jackson has earned the right to join her, if she chooses, thanks to a win here in 1:58.32 that pusher her to 21st in the world. Given that both spots in her primary events, the 400 and 800 frees, have already been filled, she’ll probably reach a bit outside of her old comfort zone and try this 200 in Shanghai. She’s still regaining her conditioning from a few years worth of tough injuries and illness, so it’s no surprise that she was able to return to form quicker in the 200 than the longer two races.
Krisopher Glichrist, who was 2nd at the Trials in March, was able to pick up a win in the men’s 100 breaststroke to give himself the second spot (along with MIchael Jamieson) on the British squad for Shanghai. His winning time of 1:00.99 put him just ahead of Daniel Siwinski (1:01.15) for the right to represent the UK in Shanghai.
The two British qualifiers for the men’s 200 fly were decided in March (Michael Rock and Joe Roebuck), but Rock wanted to add a National Title to his trophy case in the event as well. He took the win Tuesday in 1:57.35, which is about a second off of his season-best.
Siobham-Marie O’Connor is the future star of British Swimming. The 15-year old swimmer won the women’s 200 IM here in 2:14.14, which is a career-best time for her (by two seconds) after finishing only 5th at the World Championships Trials. That time cleared the FINA A-standard to earn a spot on the World Championship team, but believe it or not that actually threw a bit of a wrench into the summer plans for O’Connor. She said after her race that she wasn’t rested for the meet at all and was shocked that she swam so fast. Her plan this summer was to compete in the European Junior Championships, but she will now have to refocus and decide if she wants to stick with that plan or instead aim for the World Championships instead. If she chooses to stick to the Junior ranks, the spot will fall to 18-year old Lucy Spencer (2:14.36) who also cleared the FINA A mark. Hannah Miley earned the first spot with her win from the Trials.
In the 50m back (for which Britain is not offering automatic qualifying spots), the nation’s biggest male swimming star, and World Record holder, Liam Tancock took a win in 25.05. This was about a tenth off of his best time of the season, but was among the 13-fastest times this year.
Cyprus swimmer Anastasia Christofou won the women’s 50 breaststroke in 32.04, which puts her in the top 50 in the world this year. Christofou trains at Bath University in the UK, which is one of the country’s premier swim clubs.
Live results from the meet are available here.