Simmonds delivers to book place in team for Shanghai

YORKSHIRE’S Lizzie Simmonds last night booked her place at next month’s World Championships in Shanghai by producing the second fastest time of the year in the 200m backstroke at the British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield.

As a double European medallist and world and Olympic finalist, the Loughborough-based swimmer’s failure to secure a place for China first time around at the March trials in Manchester was one of the most notable shocks after she suffered a dip in form.

She had already booked her spot in the 100m event, where she will join world champion Gemma Spofforth, on the first night of competition and, last night, a world-class effort of 2:07.49 placed her behind only Australia’s Belinda Hocking a little more than five weeks before Shanghai.

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Simmonds said: “I’ve been training a lot better than I was before the trials (in Manchester).

“To come here and produce major times for this year, that is a significant step forward.”

Elsewhere, double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington produced a demonstration of world-class swimming to win the 800m freestyle despite still being in heavy training that sees her churn out 70km a week.

The 22-year-old has also had to overcome recurring illness that affected her training but she still won by 20m in eight minutes 24.77 seconds ahead of Eleanor Faulkner and Hannah Miley.

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Adlington qualified for the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events in Shanghai at the first set of trials in Manchester.

Last night, she effectively swam alone after being matched in the initial stages by Faulkner.

She said: “I am really pleased with that time coming here unrested.

“My target was to go under 8:35. I’m not normally a mid-season swimmer as well.”

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Of Shanghai, she said: “If my taper goes right I can hopefully go nearer to what I did at trials when I was rested and maybe scrape under. I just want to race well. I haven’t raced the world since 2009. It’s a very long time to go without racing everyone especially a year before Olympics.

“The main thing is to see where the other girls are at and get a good race at world level.”

Chris Walker-Hebborn added a berth in the 100m backstroke alongside Liam Tancock to the 200m, again relegating Marco Loughran into second place in 54.47.

Simon Burnett booked a 50m freestyle spot (22.24) although Amy Smith was 0.03secs off qualifying in the women’s equivalent while Stacey Tadd just missed out in the 100m breaststroke (1:09.14).