BBC swimming commentator and Olympic silver medallist Sharron Davies chats about how Team GB is shaping up in the swimming events at London 2012…
So the pressure must be on Rebecca Adlington to defend both her Olympic crowns in the 400m and 800m freestyle. How is she faring?
“Pretty well I think. Beck swam some great times in the British trials, but of course as the double Olympic champion she’s always going to be the one other swimmers are gunning for. Her best event is definitely the 800m in which she’s the world record-holder, although Denmark’s Lotte Friis is her main rival and has beaten her in the past four years.
“I’ve also got a feeling there might be some Chinese swimmers about to emerge from nowhere, so there’s no way it’s ‘in the bag’ for Becky. She’ll have to be at her very best, if not break her world record, to win.”
Rebecca did spring a surprise on the British public by getting two golds last time…
“Ahh, but us in the know about swimming were aware of what she was capable of, and the other swimmers knew. She won the 400m on a relatively slow time because she raced well and the some of the other more fancied swimmers didn’t. Becky’s a great racer. We’ve actually got a young girl, Ellie Faulkner, who’s really good at 800m, too, and she’s in the event with Becky. She’s someone I wouldn’t discount getting a medal. She’s my little hidden tip, as people aren’t going to have heard of her.”
Fran Halsall has become one of the world’s top sprinters, so she must be looking good for the 50m and 100m freestyle?
“Fran is quite little for a sprinter, and I think if you asked Fran what she would want to win more than anything else, it would be the 100m freestyle, as she sees that as the main event. She’s got a busy programme, and that quite suits her. She’s got a fantastically bubbly personality. The 50m is a little bit too much of a dash for Fran, suiting the really big strong girls. She’s a born sprinter, though, and has always been that way ever since she was about 13. She’s just produced amazing times in the last couple of years, so I’d put my money on Fran for the 100m freestyle.”
Britain has a great chance, too, in your old event, the Women’s 400m Individual Medley…
“Yep with Hannah Miley, she’s a real grafter, and like Fran Halsall, she’s quite little, so I really think the longer 400m is much more suited to her. So I’d love to see Hannah make the final in lane two or lane seven, and everyone else being worried about each other in the middle, but for Hannah just to do her own race. The nice parallel with Hannah is that she’s coached by dad, just as I was, but I don’t think their coach/daughter relationship is quite as difficult as it was sometimes for me and my dad. They are just a smashing team.
“Youngster Aimee Willmott is doing the 400 IM as well. I’m not sure she’s in for a medal this time, as this Olympics might be too early for her, but it will be a brilliant experience for her later swimming career. I was very young when I went to the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and that was a great experience.”
Of the British men, Liam Tancock is our world record-holder in 50m backstroke, but that event isn’t in the Olympics. Can he hold on to a lead in the 100m backstroke?
“It’s just the way Liam’s made I think, that the 50m sprint is perfect for his build. Liam’s known it for a long time, but I expect him to make the final and who knows, a great swim could see him get a medal. I’d love it if he could sneak one. Don’t forget our breaststroke boys, you’ve got Andrew Willis and Michael Jamieson, who for me both have a great chance too. As a swimmer, I recognise something in Michael and think he’s destined to do well.”
The Olympic Swimming from the Aquatics Centre starts on Saturday, July 28 and finishes on Saturday, August 4. Coverage is on BBC1 and BBC3