Swimming: Adlington claims surprise silver

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The Independent Online

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington made light of having to swim from lane one to claim a superb silver medal in the 400 metres freestyle at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai.

The 22-year-old scraped into the final as the seventh fastest qualifier after looking a shadow of the swimmer she has been this season in the heats.

However, just as in the last World Championships in Rome where she only just made the final before going on to claim bronze, Adlington swam a controlled race to take second behind Federica Pellegrini, the Italian successfully defending her crown.

While her time of four minutes 04.01 seconds, 2.04secs behind Pellegrini, was way outside her season's best, it mattered little as she successfully held off Frenchwoman Camille Muffat by 0.05s.

Nova Centurion swimmer Adlington said: "It was hard and the time wasn't as quick and wasn't there but I am so pleased. This morning was just horrific and painful.

"I wasn't expecting miracles, I knew I wouldn't hit the 4:02 I did in trials. I was really pleased just to get in the race.

"I saw Pellegrini at about 300 (metres). I just saw feet and thought 'It's got to be her.'

"I couldn't really see people with her so I thought I might be in with a shot of a medal so I just tried to put my head down and go."

An outside lane means a swimmer has little indication of how the race is unfolding and is also not pulled along with the fastest qualifiers in the middle lanes.

Adlington admits it was like a repeat of Rome.

She said: "A lane's a lane. Everyone kept saying to me 'It did you good in 09' and I came away with a bronze and a PB.

"I didn't get a PB this time but I got a silver medal so I improved, that's got to be encouraging."

Adlington put her struggles this morning down to a combination of experimenting with her training in the cycle leading into London as well as tiredness caused by sleepless nights during the recent training camp in Osaka which have continued since arriving in Shanghai.

"I was so tired this morning, I was like a zombie," she said. "You know when you wake up mid-dream and all day you feel crap? It's so annoying, I hate it."

The Mansfield-born swimmer believes she and coach Bill Furniss have now found the formula which best suits her 12 months out from the Olympics.

"We've done all the trying and experimenting and now we fully know what we need to do next year which is such a big thing."