Between Saturday March 3 and 10, the British Gas Swimming Championships took place at the Aquatics Centre in London and offered competitors their first chance to qualify for Team GB this summer.
Loughborough wasted no time in making themselves known in the pool as Emma Hollis quickly secured her place. Competing in the multi class women's 400m Freestyle she easily met the required time and now waits on her selection for the Paralympics team to be confirmed.
Meanwhile Roberto Pavoni and Joe Roebuck made it a Loughborough one-two in the first event of the Championships, the 400 metres Individual Medley (IM). Both swimmers swam inside the required time for Olympic selection with Pavoni commenting afterwards:
“It's an incredible feeling, it's been a dream of mine for quite a few years so to qualify for the Olympics, to win, and do it in a PB is amazing.
“Swimming the 400m IM on the first day was a different challenge because it's usually the last day of a meet so we had to be ready straight away but now I couldn't be happier and I can enjoy the rest of the week and hopefully get some more good swims in.”
Not to be out-done by the impressive result from the boys, Fran Halsall and Jo Jackson soon put their names on the GB team sheet too. Halsall powered her way to second place behind Ellen Gandy in the 100m butterfly with a time of 57.56 seconds. It will be Halsall’s second Olympic Games, after representing GB in Beijing back in 2008.
Jackson made a strong return to form with a 4:06.47 400m Freestyle time to secure the silver medal, behind Rebecca Adlington, and will hope to build on her bronze medal from Beijing.
Liam Tancock joined the party after destroying the men’s 100m backstroke field. Already the world record holder he took victory over a second faster than the required qualifying standard.
“It's all about coming to the Olympic trials and racing fast in front of a home crowd and getting the excitement of what it's going to be like in a few months’ time at the home Olympics,” Tancock said.
“I'm on the team now so it's pretty much job done. I've got to re-focus myself and get ready for the Games itself now.”
There was disappointment for Lizzie Simmonds who was edged out of the qualifying places in the women’s 100m backstroke, finishing third. Simmonds bounced back however, to book her place at the Olympics in the 200m backstroke later in the week.
Simmonds fought off the challenge of defending champion Stephanie Proud to take the gold medal in a time of 2:08.67.
“It’s a massive relief,” Simmonds said. “There’s a lot of things I can improve on in that race. I’ve burned up a lot of energy this week due to nerves.”
The 100m freestyle saw Amy Smith book her place competing alongside team-mates Halsall, Caitlin McClatchey and Emma Wilkins. Smith pushed Halsall all the way and whilst settling for second place also put her name on the all important GB list.
As the week drew to a close Dan Fogg produced the best swim of his career to win the 1500m freestyle title and become the 11th Loughborough swimmer to make the GB Olympic Team.
Fogg smashed his previous lifetime best time by over 11 seconds finishing in 14 minutes 55 seconds, teammate Jack Burnell finished third in 15 minutes 20 seconds.
"I think there has only been two guys have swum under 15 minutes before so to be in the same calibre as Graeme Smith and Dave Davies means so much to me," said Fogg.
Finally Lizzie Simmonds put the disappointment of missing the top two places in the 100m backstroke behind her to swim under the Olympic qualification standard in the 200m backstroke.
Full Loughborough qualified list:
Fran Halsall, Joanne Jackson, Caitlin McClatchey, Elizabeth Simmonds, Amy Smith, Ross Davenport, Daniel Fogg, Roberto Pavoni, Joe Roebuck, Liam Tancock, Emma Hollis