london2012

4 things we learnt on Trials day 3

There will be a changing of the guard after London

It’s quite normal for there to be a turnover of athletes following an Olympic games, but it’s now clearer than ever that the British swimming ranks will be refreshed following London. A home games was always likely to encourage people to prolong their careers, but the end of this Olympic cycle, and depending on how the places are won this week, then those careers could draw to a close.

Rebecca Adlington has already spoken of potential retirement, while Kate Haywood has been open that she will hang up her goggles after the games. Gemma Spofforth has been on the verge of retirement for some time, but clung on to her swimming career to qualify for the 100m backstroke. A different outcome in the breaststroke and backstroke would have hastened those departures, but that has acted as a motivator for Spofforth, who had vowed to “leave it all in the pool”.

It’s not clear if the lure of a home Commonwealth games in Glasgow in 2014, particularly for the Scots, would be enough to keep some of those swimmers contemplating hanging up their goggles in the sport.

Spofforth still has the will to win

Perhaps it was the threat of her career ending at trials instead of an Olympics that spurred her on, but Gemma Spofforth showed she retains an immense will to win in her victory in the 100m backstroke. Fifth at the turn she powered back throughout eh filed over the second half of the race and executed her finish with pinpoint precision to secure a victory many had discounted. Despite the euphoria of selection Spofforth was grounded enough to realise she will need to swim much faster in the Olympics to be competitive – most likely swimming under 59s – but at least she now has the opportunity to leave the sport at the highest level. That fighting spirit, which drove her to the world title in 2009 and shown again here, will be vital if she is to mount a credible challenge later this year.

The roof isn’t the problem it has been claimed to be for backstrokers

The roof of the Olympic Pool
The roof of the Olympic Pool

There was talk on the first few nights that the backstrokers were struggling with the roof and indeed Lizzie Simmonds was visibly circling the lane in her 100m backstroke semi-final. Although the panelling on the roof is laid out parallel to the pool, it appears that the bulge in the roof and perhaps the offset light pods have been off-putting for some. Perhaps it’s familiarity, but there didn’t seem to be any issues for the 100m finals, indeed when asked, Spofforth dismissed it as a non- issue.

Sarah Sjoestrom will be a huge contender in London

As if we didn’t know after her stellar butterfly showing on Saturday night, we know now for sure that Sarah Sjoestrom will be one of the stars of the Olympics. Her unrested time of 1:55.32 in the 200m freestyle was majestic, represented a PB by over a second and would have ranked the Swede second in the world last year, behind only Missy Franklin. That showdown in London, assuming Franklin gets the nod at US trials, is going to be one of the highlights of the competition – Sjoestrom thinks she will swim faster when she gets in a race rather than swimming alone. But the British fly girls can relax a little – Sjoestrom confirmed she will not be pursuing the 200 fly in London, but didn’t rule it out for the future.