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Swimming - 02. April 2008.


Britain's swimmers today took another step closer to realising their dreams of competing at this summer's Olympic Games by gaining some more fast times in the finals of the British Swimming Championships (50m).

Seven of the countries top swimmers today met the nomination criteria for this year's Olympic squad and will have their names added to the list that will be nominated to the British Olympic Association.

In order to make the Olympic team, athletes must finish in first or second place in the final of their event and have met the FINA 'A' time for that event in the heat.

After four people met the FINA 'A' qualifying time in the women's 200m Butterfly, the final proved to be one of the toughest battles of the competition so far. With all four vying to finish in the top two spots it was only the most focused that would prove successful in this final.

Borough of Stockton swimmer Jemma Lowe broke the British record in the heats and looked promising going into the final. She showed her strength in the first 100m to give herself a lead over her closest competitors.

Ellen Gandy, who has been training for the past six months in Australia, swam an excellent final 100m to close in on Lowe and secure herself one of the top two spots. Lowe became British champion after touching home in a time of 2:07.61. Beckenham's Gandy was close behing Lowe and took the silver medal with a time of 2:07.69.

"I did my best against a very strong field and I'm delighted to be British Champion," Lowe said. "I couldn't believe my record last night but I felt it today.

"I've been thinking of this for a long time now, I've trained harder than ever before and to do so well here this week is a great reward.

"We've all still got it to do at the Olympics but this is a fantastic start and shows the form I'm in. I'm just so excited about this year."

Bronze was taken by Jessica Dickons (Borough of Stockton) in 2:10.11.
After the British record was smashed in the heats of the women's 100m Freestyle spectators were expecting more fast times in this morning's final.

City of Liverpool's Fran Halsall touched first at the 50m mark in 26.31 with Caitlin McClatchey, the new British record holder, close behind touching in 26.68. The final 50m saw both Halsall and McClatchey battling for the top spot but it was the Loughborough University swimmer that had the edge in the final 10m.

McClatchey touched in 54.58 to take the top spot and become the new British champion. Halsall took the silver medal in a time of 54.81 and bronze was taken by Julia Beckett (Loughborough University) in 55.86.

"Today was just about making sure I qualified," McClatchey said. "I knew it was going to be a tough race as everyone is swimming so well. It's a really exciting time at the moment and I'm glad to be a part of it."
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