Great Britain's Fran Halsall won the silver medal in the 100m freestyle at the world championships here in Rome last night. Halsall was third at the halfway mark but pushed hard in the latter stages to finish second. She touched in 52.87sec, claiming Britain's fifth medal in the pool in the process.
The 19-year-old overhauled defending champion Libby Trickett on the final length as Britta Steffen lowered her own world record to 52.07secs. The Liverpool teenager said: "When I finished I just couldn't stop giggling, I couldn't believe it. It was fantastic, it was an amazing race to be in. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry, I've just been giggling and tears have been coming out."
British hopes of more medals today are high after Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson's efforts in the pool yesterday have given rise to real optimism the pair may once again share a podium after they were fastest into today's 800m freestyle final. Olympic champion and world record holder Adlington dominated her heat from start to finish to qualify fastest in 8min 20.53sec. Jackson was even more dominant in her heat, with a winning margin of 15m, finishing in 8:20.80, meaning the British pair will occupy lanes four and five at the Foro Italico tonight. Their performances were even more impressive considering just 16 hours had elapsed since they earned bronzes in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
The threat to their hopes of claiming two of the three medals on offer for the second time this week comes from Beijing silver and bronze medallists Alessia Filippi and Lotte Friis and Camelia Potec, fourth last year.
Adlington set a new world mark of 8:14.10 in Beijing but what she is really aiming for is a personal best. She said: "I would love to do a PB and show I am improving from last year. We'll just have to wait and see [about a world record]."
The 20-year-old described having her fellow Briton Jackson as company in the final as "brilliant" but she refused to identify any one swimmer as a potential threat, saying: "Everyone in the pool. It is a clean slate. The strong ones are through. All the contenders are there."
The Nova Centurion swimmer knows there is more expectation than last year. "A little bit," she continued. "People are aware of me now whereas last year I wasn't really known."
Adlington went out fast yesterday to ensure she would get one of the centre lanes and avoid a repeat of the 400m where she had, by her standards, a poor heat and was in lane eight for the final. After all the waiting Adlington is glad to finally get under way with her favourite event. "It is brilliant getting back into it. It's my main event."