Jackson returns to form with 200m Freestyle victory in Sheffield

14 June 2011

Olympic bronze medallist Joanne Jackson clocked her quickest time for two years to clinch the 200m Freestyle title at the British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield.

The British Gas ITC Loughborough swimmer qualified fastest from the morning heats before dominating the final to touch home in 1:58.32.

This time last year I didn't think it would happen as I was struggling with health and form so this is a great achievement.

And after ducking under the qualification time for this summer’s World Championships in Shanghai, the British record holder admitted she was looking ahead with confidence.

“That’s a great swim which puts me on the team for Shanghai,” Jackson said. “This time last year I didn’t think it would happen as I was struggling with health and form so to overturn that with a best time in two years is a great achievement.

“There were some fantastic performances in that final. It was great to see Caitlin and Rebecca pushing hard. It looks great for the relay.”

Caitlin McClatchey (Loughborough University) took silver in a season's best 1:58.56 while Rebecca Turner (City of Sheffield) won bronze, knocking nearly a second off her pb as she touched in 1:58.66.

The 100m Backstroke final saw Lizzie Simmonds (British Gas ITC Loughborough) racing against the clock for the final qualification spot for Shanghai.

I didn't have a good start to the season but I've turned it around - I'm enjoying my swimming and it translates into my performances.

And Simmonds, who won European silver in the event last summer, made sure of selection with a comprehensive victory, turning almost a second ahead of the field before bringing home gold in a season’s best 59.86 - the fifth fastest time in the world this year.

“I’m not quite as big as some of the other girls in the field so I spend a lot of time on my skills to make sure I can keep up with their power,” said Simmonds.

“I think I showed tonight that it’s serving me well. That’s a great time and puts me on to the World Championship team.

“I didn’t have a good start to the season but I’ve turned it around. I’m enjoying my swimming and it’s translating into my performance.”

Ealing’s Ekaterina Avramova won the silver medal in 1:01.53 and bronze was taken by Rachel Lefley (Loughborough University) in a personal best 1:01.67.

The closest final of the evening was the 100m Butterfly which saw British record holder Fran Halsall and Welsh record holder Jemma Lowe battle for gold.

Halsall led from the gun and touched first at the half-way turn but Lowe stormed back in the second 50m to take the victory on the touch in a new Welsh record of 57.43 and seal the second World Championship qualification spot with March's British Champion Ellen Gandy.

“It’s been a really good day for me all round,” Lowe said. “My Mum and Dad just turned up to see me swim after rushing from my sister’s X Factor audition where she got through to the next round. That was a big PB and a Welsh record.

“The last time I showed this kind of form was three years ago. I’ve been trying to step it up ever since I return to the UK and tonight’s swim was just fantastic.

"Ellen, Fran and me just show what depth of talent we have in the country these days. And in such strong competition I am delighted to have made the team.”

Halsall touched a mere 0.01 seconds outside of Lowe in 57.44 to take silver as the pair fourth and fifth in the world this season respectively. Bronze went to Nova Centurion's Jessica Sylvester in 1:00.61.

Commonwealth Champion Robbie Renwick took on fellow Scot David Carry in the 400m Freestyle with both swimmers desperate to seal one of the two spaces up for grabs on the team for Shanghai.

It means everything to get the result and the qualifying time - the pressure is off for the 200m now and I can enjoy it.

Carry was in the lead at the half way point but Renwick’s back end was too strong for the British Gas ITC Stockport swimmer and Renwick took the victory in 3:48.60 to book his Worlds spot.

“I’m really chuffed with that performance,” Renwick said. “It means everything to get the result and the qualifying time. I’ve tapered here as I targeted this event to qualify. I feel very confident ahead of
the 200m now. The pressure is off and I can enjoy it while going for the right result.”

While Carry fell short of the gold, his time of 3:49.42 was good enough to dip under the Worlds selection pace. Bronze went to Warrender's Lewis Smith in 3:52.27.

Siobhan Marie O’Connor (British Gas ITC Bath) won gold ahead of City of Sheffield’s Lucy Spencer in the women’s 200m Individual Medley.

The 15-year old led throughout the race after qualifying third fastest for the final before touching home in a time of 2:14.14 to win her maiden senior ASA title.

And while O'Connor was the quickest of all four swimmers who dipped under the qualification time for the second World Championship spot, the teenager admitted she may have to re-think her summer with the European Junior Championships also on the horizon.

“I haven’t rested for this meet so I’m stunned to have swam so fast,” O’Connor said. “The aim was to swim well, not to make the World Championships team.

“I’m amazed to make the senior qualifying time. I’m due to swim in the European Juniors next month but will sit down with my coach now to discuss what will be the main focus this year. I’m just so shocked.”

Spencer won the silver in 2:14.36 and Sophie Allen (British Gas ITC Stockport) won the bronze in 2:14.45.

The final qualifying spot for the men’s 100m Breaststroke was fought out between Kris Gilchrist and Daniel Sliwinski.

With 50m to go Gilchrist held almost a second lead over the field and he won the gold in 1:00.99.

“I’m fairly relieved,” said the British Gas ITC Bath swimmer, who will join teammate Michael Jamieson in China.  “It’s the fastest time I’ve posted in the last two and a half years.

“But I know that it’ll be a massive step up in Shanghai for the World Championships. I moved clubs in November and have a long term plan towards London and I am very much in line with that. I am heading in the right direction. I’ve got to step it up in Shanghai and then once again in March.”

Sliwinski won silver in a time of 1:01.15 and bronze went to Richard Webb in 1:02.15.

British champion Michael Rock entered the 200m Butterfly final with confidence as he aimed to retain his ASA title.

And the British record holder didn't disappoint as he dominated the final before touching home in 1:57.35.

Iain Macmillan won silver in 1:59.39 and British Gas ITC Swansea’s Adam Mallett won the bronze in 2:00.16.

Anastasia Christoforou (Bath University) won the gold medal in the women’s 50m Breaststroke with a quick 32.04.

She finished ahead of Kathryn Johnstone (Edinburgh University) who finished in 32.27 and Ealing’s Georgia Heyn in 32.30.

Finally, World Champion Liam Tancock looked to lay down a marker ahead of the World Championships in Shanghai with a quick time in the 50m Backstroke.

He powered through the water with his strong stroke and touched in a time of 25.05 to take his gold medal.

Luke Wood (Loughborough University) won silver in 26.06 and Craig McNally won bronze in a time of 26.10.

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