Swimming: Adlington in form to eclipse her 2012 rivals

The Olympic champion can win the British 400m freestyle title today. She tells Nick Harris how she hopes to stay ahead of two very close competitors

The good news for British swimming is that Rebecca Adlington is back in form; the better news is that the double Olympic champion has got two compatriots breathing down her neck in the quest for freestyle supremacy at the London Games of 2012.

And this evening in Sheffield, in the 400m freestyle final at the national championships, we will get the latest update on how Adlington, 21, is shaping up against Jo Jackson, 23, and Jazmin Carlin, 19, the "upstart" of the trio.

Come London in two years' time, the three of them plus A.N. Other could well be climbing the podium together with relay medals – possibly gold – around their necks. They won bronze in the 4 x 200m free at last year's world championships in Rome and are coming on in leaps and bounds.

The other great hope for 2012, is that Adlington, Jackson and Carlin – three from a pool of vibrant British talent – will push each other to individual glory in one or more of the 200m, 400m and 800m events. So to say that tonight's 400m final is the most eagerly anticipated race of the week at this year's championships would be to understate matters. At Ponds Forge a year ago Adlington, Olympic champion, went head to head with Jackson, Olympic bronze medalist. Jackson won while both went inside the previous world record in the fastest 400m race in history.

With Carlin an ever-more intriguing factor in the mix, their three-way rivalry is exceptional. Incidentally, Carlin is coached by Bud McAllister, mentor to the former American great, Janet Evans, whose 800m freestyle record from 1989 Adlington smashed in China in 2008.

"The strength in depth across the board is part of why we're all improving, and that makes it a very exciting time," Adlington told The Independent. "Me and Jo are now among the older swimmers, relatively, but Jazz is really strong, a great competitor and very funny to be around too. We'll all be fighting for the 400m title."

Adlington has already had a decent week. She regained her national 200m title on Monday, beating Carlin into second place, and then obliterated the field in the heats of the 800m free and won the final last night. She qualified for that final almost a full length clear of Carlin in second place, and that was not anywhere near at full tilt.

The championships are doubling as the trials for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October and are the last major meet ahead of the summer's European Championships in Budapest. A year ago, the corresponding nationals were the trials for the 2009 World Championships in Rome, but last year was not so great for Adlington overall.

"I feel like I'm in really good shape right now, and that's largely down to the intense training block between September and December. That's my basic endurance block for the year, the hard work, and that makes a massive difference to your season.

"After Beijing, that [autumn training] was affected. I'm not moaning for one second about that because I got to do and experience so many amazing things after the Olympics. But I learnt so much from the past year [about what needs to be done], and I'll learn more with every year."

Adlington is, by a tally of Olympic golds, Britain's most successful female swimmer of all time. "But people forget I'm only 21 and actually I'm a very inexperienced swimmer in terms of major events. I've never been to a Commonwealth Games, for example, I've just been to one Olympics, and I've been to a worlds which didn't go so well."

The question of whether the Commonwealth Games matters to Britain's elite swimmers is a "no-brainer". As Adlington says: "They're a major Games, and when Australia is competing at a meet then it's going to be competitive. The Europeans are important, both mean a lot to me."

Security issues in India have cast a shadow over the participation of Britain's – or rather the individual nations' – athletes, but Adlington is prepared to "go with the flow" and accept whatever decisions are made at a higher level.

"We all keep getting asked whether we want to go, whether it's safe, but we want to go. British Swimming would not do anything that jeopardises our safety. At the moment I don't think there are security issues that will stop us being there."

The Taj Mahal will be not on the agenda, whatever happens. "We'll be there to compete, not sight-seeing," Adlington says. "Holding camp, then in, swim, out."

If today is anything as businesslike, rivals beware.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Humbe...

Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We are looking for a Qualified C...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

Year 1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 1 Primary Supply Teachers ne...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits