Swimming: Rebecca Adlington looks to future

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The Independent Online

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington is putting her Beijing success behind her as she heads into the World Championships in Rome.

The 20-year-old won the 400metres and 800m freestyle titles in China last summer and since then her life has been transformed.



The Nova swimmer, who also broke the world record in the longer distance, found herself thrust into the media spotlight.



In her first real competition on her return, the Mansfield-born athlete dipped under the world record in the 400m freestyle at the trials in Sheffield in March - although she had to be content with second place behind GB team-mate Jo Jackson.



The pair then shared one of the fastest 800m races in history in Glasgow last month.



Speaking at the British Gas holding camp in Sardinia, Adlington told Press Association Sport: "I just think the whole thing is different: it's a brand new competition.



"You've got to put the Olympics right behind you, that's in the past now.



"I can learn from it and take a lot of confidence from it.



"At the end of the day this is a completely different competition: it's different people, a different environment,



"We are on Italian home ground: they are amazing swimmers and they will be flying.



"It's just a completely different situation and you have got to take it as that, you don't want to compare the two."



Adlington will start her competition on the first day when she competes in the 400m free, which is set to be one of the top races of the week.



Italian Federica Pellegrini recently reclaimed the world record from Jackson and Adlington believes it could well be the first sub-four minute race.



"It's definitely going to be quick," she continued.



"A lot of the girls have the capability to do that, it's just going to be about the race on the day.



"The 400m final at the Olympics was slower, it's just about getting involved in the race than anything but I definitely think they are capable of going under four minutes."



GB have the capability to surpass their medal tally from two years ago in Melbourne when they won two silver and three bronze medals.



As well as Adlington and Jackson, Ellen Gandy, Gemma Spofforth and Hannah Miley are all flying high in the rankings and the women's medley teams will also be confident.



However, head coach Dennis Pursley admits it is hard to gauge form this year and insists he has not set a medal target.



Pursley said: "I think it is probably the most unpredictable environment going into it we have ever seen.



"We've been taken by surprise on a couple of occasions when teams have shown up and gained an advantage on performance-enhancing drugs but we didn't know that going in.



"It is unpredictable and we are trying to stay completely out of all the hoop-la surrounding the suit issue and not get caught up on how is that going to impact the medal standings."



The American reacted angrily last month when FINA, the governing body, did a U-turn and allowed a number of performance-enhancing suits to be used in Rome.



When asked if he was let down by FINA, Pursley added: "I'm not in FINA's shoes.



"I'm sure they have been under incredible pressure from all sides pushing them in all different directions.



"I'm sure legal advice had a big part to play in how it all worked out.



"Not knowing the issues from the inside it's no good in pointing the finger of blame, but what I will say that to change the rules at the 11th hour is very unsettling potentially and an unfair circumstance to present to the athletes.



"It is what it is though, and we just all hope we will never be in this situation again. Our focus is trying to rise above all this distraction and not letting it have a negative impact on our performance."

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