IRVINE, Calif., May 30. TWO medals, both bronze. That was it for the British swimming contingent at last summer’s Olympics in Athens. Disappointing? Absolutely. Embarrassing? Sure. Great Britain expected much more. For that reason, the upcoming World Championships in Montreal serve as an opportunity for redemption.
If nothing else, the Brits are looking good just two months before the World Champs. For proof, take a look at the results from the Speedo Grand Challenge. Held at the Woollett Aquatic Center, Great Britain uncorked several promising swims.
Leading the way was Joanne Jackson, who opened the three-day affair with a victory in the 400 freestyle and capped the weekend with a decision in the 200 butterfly. In winning the 400 free, Jackson popped a mark of 4:07.96, the third-fastest time in the world this year. For good measure, she came back and won the 200 fly in 2:12.68.
While Jackson was dynamite in the eight-lap freestyle, Melanie Marshall enjoyed splendid showings in the 100 and 200 freestyles. Second in the 100 free in 55.21, Marshall collected a victory in the 200 free, as she went 1:58.60, third-fastest in the world. Heading into the Athens Games, Marshall was considered a gold-medal favorite, but failed to advance out of the semifinals.
Kate Haywood also notched a sizzling swim, as she went 1:08.26 in the 100 breaststroke. That time was good enough to hold off Jessica Hardy, America’s rising star in the event.
At the last World Championships, held in Barcelona in 2003, Great Britain snared eight medals. It would love nothing more than to return to that territory. This weekend showed it may be possible.