hope at last for british squad

By comparison with earlier nights in Montreal, the penultimate finals session off the world championships had some encouraging moments for Britain, as Loughborough teammates Liam Tancock and Kate Haywood advanced to the finals of the 50m backstroke and breaststroke respectively. Also giving hope to the British squad was David Davies’ qualification as the fastest swimmer for the final of the 1500m freestyle.
Tancock had entered the championships ranked fourth in the world over the one lap backstroke event, and improved his own British record to qualify second fastest for tomorrow’s final. The European Junior Champion in the event in 2003, Tancock’s time of 25.22 was hampered by his proximity to the lane rope over the closing metres, but a repeat performance in the final will give him a great chance of mounting the medal podium.
Haywood, meanwhile, went through to the final of the 50m breaststroke in 5th place, setting a new personal best time of 31.41, the 5th fastest result from the semi finals. It is likely that she will need to dip under 31 seconds to contest for a medal, although only top qualifier Jade Edmistone of Australia was able to achieve that feat in the semi finals..
There was more disappointment for Becky Cook in her favoured 800m freestyle final. Having qualified 4th fastest the Glasgow swimmer looked sluggish from the start and never got into a rhythm that was likely to see her in medal contention. As American Kate Ziegler completed the distance freestyle double, a struggling Cooke could only manage 7th place in 8:37.98, slower than her qualification swim and well outside her best.
There were no such problems for Davies in the 1500m heats as the Welshman dipped under the 15-minute barrier, posting 14:59.33 to secure lane 4 for the final. his swim mirrors that in Athens where he also held the number one seeded position after the heats on his way to a bronze medal. The field looks to be just as though this year, with Grant Hackett in particular in supreme form. Davies will need to be swimming at his very best to be challenging, with Larsen Jensen and Yuri Prilukov also showing good speed this week.
Unfortunately there was no such success for the women’s medley relay team who could finish only tenth in the morning heats and did not progress to the final. Although Haywood and Melanie Marshall posted solid splits in the breaststroke and freestyle legs respectively, the quartet was let down by under par swims from Katy Sexton, preferred to Gemma Spofforth on the backstroke, and Ros Brett on the butterfly.