Team GB's Fran Halsall storms into semi-final of 50m freestyle


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The Independent Online

David Davies' Olympic career came to an end today when he fell short of making the final of the 1,500 metres freestyle.

While Davies' London campaign is over, and possibly his career at an end, team-mate Daniel Fogg qualified fifth.

For Fran Halsall it was a happy return to the pool after her disappointment in the 100m freestyle to qualify third fastest for the 50m freestyle semi-finals.

Qualification for Davies would have seen the Welshman compete in his third consecutive final in the event.

Instead, Davies can look back on a career that has brought him an Olympic bronze in 2004 as well as silver in the open water - for which he has not qualified in London - four years ago.

However, recently Davies has endured ongoing fatigue problems which forced his withdrawal from last year's World Championships a year ago.

Today he competed at his final Games but his time of 15 minutes 14.77 seconds - almost 30 seconds off his best - was only good enough for 16th.

Retirement may well beckon for the Cardiff swimmer who will make a decision over the coming weeks.

He said: "You never make a decision when you are emotional or straight after a race, but I mean...

"I always planned to finish at the highest level in sport and a home Olympics, it is amazing and if that's the last thing then that's brilliant and everything else I have done as well.

"I will give it a few weeks and then make a decision. I want to enjoy the rest of the Olympic experience now.

"We have some amazing swimmers in finals to come. I will be supporting them and I will be supporting the rest of the sports next week and I will enjoy the whole Olympic experience.

"We will never experience it again in London so I want to make the most of it, then go home, settle down, take the dog for a walk and think about what I want to do."

Of today's race, Davies was realistic, saying: "It was a tough race.

"I knew coming in to it that I hadn't had the ideal preparation, not just this year, but before that too.

"The third Olympics has been the hardest campaign for me. I have learned a lot of lessons in how to train. My body has taken a lot of knocks. I have kept pushing myself to try to come back and everyone has been saying all week how amazing the experience is, walking out to that crowd, and it was good, it was amazing, but for me success and enjoyment is based on achieving what you want to do and that is not what I wanted to do. I am not going to try put a sugar coating on it."

For Fogg, it was a different story, his 14mins 56.12secs the fifth fastest.

The Loughborough ITC swimmer said: "I am really happy. I have been preparing for this 15 minutes for the last God knows how many years and the crowd definitely helped a lot. It's not often I race in a race where you can hear the crowd as I am swimming."

Halsall was desolate after her sixth in the 100m freestyle last night but she fed off her hunger to qualify third for the semis in the splash and dash in 24.61.

The 22-year-old said: "I am in a very steely, determined mood at the moment. I am like, this is it, I have nothing to lose now.

"There are literally six girls who can get a medal. We are all very close. If I make it through to the final, no way any of them will beat me. That's for sure."

Team-mate Amy Smith won a three-way swim-off in an impressive 24.82, and said: "I didn't think I would have a second opportunity but I did and I am happy to get through.

"It was a real team effort to get me through."

Both the men's and women's medley relay squads made it through to their respective finals, the former especially impressive, winning their heat in 3:33.44 to qualify second fastest behind the United States.

Liam Tancock, fifth in the 100m backstroke, said: "We are very pleased. The word 'wow', I think it pretty much sums up the whole meet, everything about it."

Emotionally, he added: "It has been a great meet for me. It's not been about the medals unfortunately. Everyone would like that, but it's been about getting in there and giving it your best.

"I have been getting so many messages on Twitter saying about their kids who are dying to get into the pool, from people who haven't swam for years and years and are dying to get back into the pool because of what the swimmers are doing here."

The women made it through in fifth in 3:59.37 and Gemma Spofforth, fifth in the 100m backstroke final, said: "We are confident. A medal is what we want to go for but there are a lot of teams out there that are fast and anything can happen."