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SPOFFORTH CROWNED WORLD CHAMPION AFTER RECORD BREAKING SWIM

28 Jul 2009
Gemma Spofforth became Britain’s first long-course World Champion since 2003 after a world record breaking swim in the 100m Backstroke at the FINA World Championships in Rome.

British Gas swimmer Spofforth went into the final alongside team-mate Elizabeth Simmonds and they had tough competition from new world record holder Anastasia Zueva (Russia) and Olympic silver medallist Kirsty Coventry.

The British record holder Spofforth, who finished fourth in the Olympic 100m Backstroke final, swam close to the old world record in her heat and it was clear that she had more to come.

The final got under way and saw Zueva take the lead and the Brit turned in second place at the 50m point. But it was Spofforth that showed her strength through the final 25m to take the title from Zueva.

She took over half a second off Zueva’s world record after finishing in a time of 58.12 and won her first World Championship medal.

“Last year I missed out on a medal by one hundredth of a second and this year I have won the gold by one hundredth of a second,” Spofforth said.

“I gave it my all but I wasn’t sure whether I would make it and come back at the Zueva but I did it. I swam a better race than in the semis. I was very relaxed coming into this final and didn’t feel the tension like I normally do at other major meets.

“I am just delighted. It means so much to me and I just want to go back and sit on my bed and relive it again.”

Taking part in her first World 100m Backstroke final, Simmonds swam just outside of her personal best as she touched in seventh place in a time of 59.71.

The silver medal went to Zueva in a time of 58.18 and the bronze was won by Emily Seebohm (Australia) in 58.88.

The 2007 World bronze medallist Liam Tancock swam to a new Commonwealth and British record in the 100m Backstroke final.

Tancock had an explosive first 50m and turned in second place as he fought against Japan’s Junya Koga and Germany’s Helge Meeuw through the final length of the pool.

The Olympic finalist showed his improved power over the final 50m and touched in joint fourth place in a time of 52.73 just 0.10 of a second off the bronze medal.

“I have been working on that for some time now,” Tancock said. “That was a best time for me and to get it in the world final was great.

“It was a British and Commonwealth record and it was pretty exciting to be part of a race that saw the Championship record go.

“The Backstroke events are moving on and that was a tough field out there tonight and I just missed the medal. It is unfortunate not to win the medal but tonight it just wasn’t my turn.”

The gold went to Koga in 52.26 and Meeuw took the silver in 52.54. The bronze was won by Aschwin Wildeboer (Spain) who touched in 52.64. Ryosuke Irie (Japan) touched in 52.73 to finish in joint fourth with Tancock.

The semi-finals of the women’s 200m Freestyle saw Jo Jackson and Caitlin McClatchey drawn into the second race and had to listen to Federica Pellegrini break the world record in the first semi-final.

World 400m silver medallist, Jackson, swam a well paced race as she broke her own British and Commonwealth record after touching home in a time of 1:55.54.

She turned at the 50m mark in third and showed her strength through the back end of the race as she moved to second place to take a second off her record. She qualified as third fastest for tomorrow’s final.

“I am really pleased with that,” Jackson said. “I have just reached my first 200m Freestyle major international final and that is great. I have wanted to go that fast for ages and I am so excited about the relay.

“In the final I want to go and have fun and hopefully get another personal best. I would love another medal but the 200m Freestyle isn’t my main event.

“I have got a very busy programme here and I am just taking it all one day at a time and enjoying my experience here.”

McClatchey posted a new personal best time as she finished in fourth place in the semi-final with a time of 1:56.62. The first semi-final proved to be too fast though and she was pushed into ninth place overall just 0.04 seconds off a final place.

Michael Rock secured his place in the men’s 200m Butterfly final after a performance that saw him knock one second off the British record.

Rock faced tough competition from Austria’s Dinko Jukic, Pawel Korzeniowski (Poland) and Brazil’s Kaio Almeida in his fight for a place in his first major international final.

The Olympian performed well to hold his own against the field and touched home in fourth place in a time of 1:54.58 to take the British record and qualify as the sixth fastest athlete for the final.

“That felt a lot better than my heat swim,” Rock said. “I'm very happy to make my first major final and to take the British record from Steve [Parry] is something I've been after for ages.

“Hopefully I can just go there tomorrow night and do well. I need to stay relaxed and focused and just see how the race develops.”

-ENDS-

The British Gas Swimming Team set to compete in Rome comprises:

Rebecca Adlington – Nova Centurion
Jazmin Carlin – Swansea ITC
Jess Dickons – Stockton/Bath ITC
Ellen Gandy – Tritans, Melbourne
Fran Halsall – City of Liverpool/Loughborough ITC
Louise Henley - University of Edinburgh
Georgia Holderness – Millfield School
Jo Jackson – Derwentside/Loughborough ITC
Jemma Lowe – Stockton
Caitlin McClatchey - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
Hannah Miley – Garioch
Keri-Anne Payne – Stockport Metro/Stockport ITC
Lizzie Simmonds - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
Amy Smith - Loughborough University
Gemma Spofforth – Portsmouth Northsea/Florida
Stacey Tadd - University of Bath
Lowri Tynan - Wrexham
Katherine Wyld – Nova Centurion
Emma Wilkins – Plymouth Leander

Robert Bale - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
Adam Brown – Hatfield
Simon Burnett – Windsor
David Carry – Aberdeen Dolphins/Stockport ITC
Richard Charlesworth - Hatfield
Ross Davenport - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
David Davies – City of Cardiff /Loughborough ITC
James Gibson – Marseille
Kris Gilchrist – University of Edinburgh
James Goddard - Stockport Metro/Stockport ITC
Tom Haffield – City of Cardiff
Ian Hulme – City of Sunderland
Andy Hunter – Stirling Swimming/Stirling ITC
Marco Loughran – Guildford City
Michael Rock - Stockport Metro/Stockport ITC
Robbie Renwick – City of Glasgow
Joe Roebuck - Loughborough University
Lewis Smith – Warrender/Stirling ITC
Liam Tancock - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
Grant Turner - Loughborough University/Loughborough ITC
Chris Walker-Hebborn – Team Ipswich/Bath ITC
Richard Webb – University of Bath

Diving events take place from 17th – 25th July
Synchro takes place from 18th – 25th July
Open Water takes place from 19th – 25th July
Swimming takes place from 26th July – 2nd August

For further details contact British Swimming Media Officer Gemma Field on 01509 632238, 07917 726431 or email gemma.field@swimming.org

About British Swimming
British Swimming is the National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo and Open Water in Great Britain. It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport. The members of British Swimming are the three Home Countries national governing bodies of England (ASA), Scotland (Scottish ASA) and Wales. (Welsh ASA) British Swimming seeks to enable its athletes to achieve gold medal success at the Olympics, Paralympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

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