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Halsall defies short season to finish fourth at Worlds

29 July 2011

European champion Fran Halsall put an injury-disrupted season behind her to finish fourth in the 100m Freestyle on Day Six of the World Swimming Championships in Shanghai.

Having qualified fastest for the final, the British Gas ITC Loughborough swimmer was in the medal mix throughout the race before missing out on bronze by just 0.06 seconds in a desperate lunge for the finish as she finished in 53.72.

I'm lucky to be here with the year I've had so anything out here was a bonus.

Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen and Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia tied for gold in 53.45 while Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo edged out Halsall to take bronze in 53.66.

But having spent three months on the sidelines after ankle surgery in November, the Brit – who was defending her silver medal from the 2009 World Championships – insisted making the final in China had been a big confidence boost.

“I’m lucky to be here with the year I’ve had so anything out here was a bonus,” said Halsall. “Swimming so fast last night was a good sign for the future.

“I felt really relaxed last night but tonight I just didn't feel like I had anything in the tank. It just felt groggy out there.

“If it doesn’t happen on the day it doesn’t happen. I just have to get on with it, work hard and get it right next year.

“I can build on this now and although it hurts to finish fourth and not get the time you want, it will give me a lot of motivation for next year.”

British Gas ITC Bath teammates Michael Jamieson and Andrew Willis impressed in their debut World Championship final, finishing fifth and eighth respectively in the 200m Breaststroke.

I know I'm quicker but top eight a year out from the Olympic Games puts me in the frame.

Commonwealth silver medallist Jamieson took the race by the scruff of the neck, turning third at the half way point before slipping out of the medal positions at the business end of the race to touch in 2:10.67.

Hungary’s defending champion Daniel Gyurta (2:08.41) ultimately took gold ahead of Japan’s Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima (2:08.63) and Germany’s 2010 European junior champion Christian Vom Lehm (2:09.06).

And despite finishing fifth in his first World Championships, Jamieson insisted he had more to come.

“I know I’m quicker but top eight a year out from the Olympic Games puts me in the frame,” said Jamieson.

“I went in there thinking I had nothing to lose and tried to take it out as hard as I could – I just didn’t have a great back end to my race tonight.”

Willis only made his major championship debut at last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi but signalled his rapid progress by touching in 2:11.29 to finish eighth.

"I would like to have gone quicker," said Willis. "But it was my first World Championship final so it's a great experience and I'm delighted to be in there."

The Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay quartet were the only other British finallists in Shanghai and finished sixth.

The atmosphere was absolutely electric and I can't image what it will be like for us next year.

The quartet of Ross Davenport, David Carry, Jak Scott and Robert Renwick secured a London 2012 spot in making the final and improved on their qualification position of seventh as they touched in 7:10.84.

"We're delighted with that," said Davenport, whose opening leg of 1:47.31 would have qualified him for the individual 200m Freestyle final.

"Sixth for us is a fantastic result. We've qualified the relay team for the Olympics and we've done better than two years ago at the last Worlds in Rome. It all shows we're heading in the right direction."

World Championships newcomer Scott added: "Standing on the blocks was the most amazing experience of my life.

"The atmosphere was absolutely electric and I can't imagine how it's going to be for us next year."

Elizabeth Simmonds reached her second final of the week in the 200m Backstroke.

The European champion, who finished seventh in the 100m Backstroke earlier in the week, touched third in her semi final in 2:08.79 to progress eighth fastest.

And Simmonds admits she's got nothing to lose from an outside lane in tomorrow's final.

"It's was another good swim but it's going to be tight in the final tomorrow," said Simmonds.

"I'll give it a good go as I always do but it's a tough field. The depth is just so strong - it's incredible. But I made the final and I'm in the mix."

In her first World Championship semi final, Stephanie Proud finished seventh in 2:10.57 to rank 13th overall.

British champion Adam Brown finished 15th overall after his 50m Freestyle semi final in China.

The 22-year old won his morning heat from an outside lane but fell just short of his best from the seeded lanes in the semi, touching in 22.21 to finish 13th overall.

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