Halsall goes back-to-back in retaining crown

World Championship silver medallist Fran Halsall experienced an intense few minutes which saw her retain her 100 metres freestyle title before making a hasty return to the pool to qualify for the 100m butterfly final at the British Gas Swimming Championships in Sheffield last night.

Halsall was runner-up to Britta Steffen in the 100m freestyle in Rome last summer and last night she held off Loughborough ITC team-mate Amy Smith to touch in 54.71seconds.

The Liverpool-born swimmer then dived back in to qualify in sixth for today's butterfly final in one minute 00.93sec with British record holder Ellen Gandy leading the way. Halsall rued the short time between her races and, with her goggles also having gone missing, it concluded a stressful time.

Halsall said: "It was six minutes officially and we asked if it could be a bit more in between, maybe do an interview or something to help me out."

Halsall admitted she was not totally satisfied with her time in the freestyle final where she was pushed all the way by Smith, winner of the 50m butterfly. She was, though, philosophical and added: "To go 60 seconds after doing the 100 freestyle for me is pretty good. I've been practising doing back-to-back swims recently.

"I expected to swim faster in that freestyle but I don't know what happened there so hopefully I can pull it back tomorrow night in the 100m fly."

The apparent surprise of the championships so far saw Lizzie Simmonds topple world champion Gemma Spofforth in the 100m backstroke, although the Loughborough swimmer has been in scorching form this year.

Simmonds, double finalist in Rome, led from start to finish and held off a late challenge to touch in 59.43, 0.03 ahead as the women registered the second and third fastest times in the world in 2010.