Swimming: Adlington leaves rivals in her wake
Thursday 19 March 2009
Nobody got close to Rebecca Adlington over her favourite distance – the 800m freestyle – as she took gold at the Beijing Olympics and set a world record, and there are only two hopes for her rivals this evening in the same event here at the national championships. Slim and none.
In a statement of intent about how seriously Adlington is taking tonight's race, she pulled out of last night's 200m freestyle final, in which she was likely to win a medal if not the race, to concentrate her energies on the 800m final, for which she qualified here in cool fashion yesterday.
The powerhouse from Mansfield carved smoothly 16 times up and down the pool in 8min 33.92sec, which was 19 seconds outside her own world time but a pre-lunch stroll in her own terms. The second fastest qualifier to the final was Keri-Anne Payne, seven seconds behind. The 800m title and the attendant berth that it guarantees to the summer's world championships in Rome is Adlington's for the taking. Sponsored by British Gas? Cooking on gas, more like.
In the 200m final last night, Jo Jackson, victor over Adlington in the 400m on Monday in world record time, won again, in a British and Commonwealth record time of 1min 56.47sec. There have been plenty of records here this week, although not many last night. Other winners included James Goddard in the 200m individual medley final, Kate Haywood in the 100m breaststroke final and Ross Davenport in the 200m freestyle final.
Last night also produced a landmark event in the disqualification of the men's 100m breaststroke finalist, Craig Elliot. In contravention of wide-ranging new rules introduced last weekend to combat the use of performance enhancing costumes, Elliot was the first Briton to be disqualified for wearing two swimsuits.
The practice, which some athletes believe makes them more streamlined through the water, is no longer allowed by Fina, the world governing body. Elliot's ignorance rather than wilful stupidity is understood to have been behind his actions.
Cassie Patten, an 800m Olympic finalist, failed to make tonight's final, although her ambitions are centred around longer distances, namely the 10km event in which she won bronze behind Payne last summer.
Patten plans to go to Rome in that event, which itself will act as no bad preparation for a quirkier feat later in the summer. On a date in August to be determined by conditions and tidal state, the 22-year-old from Stockport Metro will swim across the Channel between Dover and Calais in the Great Channel Swim. It will be an international race for men and women, not staged for 50 years.
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