Spofforth misses chance of second stab at Olympic swimming glory

Gemma Spofforth will be at the Olympics - but not in a seond event
Gemma Spofforth will be at the Olympics - but not in a seond event

GEMMA SPOFFORTH admitted she had mentally ‘checked out’ after she finished well out of contention for a second Olympic qualification at the British Swimming Championships.

A world championship finalist in the 200m backstroke in Rome three years ago, Spofforth placed all her eggs in the 100m backstroke basket last week, and having qualified for that event, appeared more concerned for close friend Lizzie Simmonds in the 200m.

After missing out on qualification in the 100m, Simmonds made amends over 200 winning gold and a place in London, but Spofforth could only manage sixth in a time of 2.13.80, more than seven seconds off her best, which was swum in a controversial now-banned supersuit.

“I think maybe I had mentally checked out. The heats and semis were ok and then in that I wasn’t really there,” said former Slindon girl Spofforth, who won world championship gold in Rome in 2009 over the 100m back.

“I checked out and probably didn’t put as much into that one as I should have done but it’s done now and I can just focus on the 100.

“I’m just so happy for Lizzie that she made it. I wasn’t nervous for myself but I was nervous for her. I was trying to keep it calm in the call room for her.”

Spofforth, who trains in Florida, is confident the British team’s experience of the Olympic pool and its disconcerting roof will give them an edge over their rivals in four months.

She added: “The pool roof is really not ideal, we all think. When you are trying to follow the lines it’s maybe the lights that are the problem. But we’ve swum in it now and we’ll be coming back for a camp so it should give us the edge.

“The international swimmers will be getting used to it when it comes to the Games whereas we will have spent time in it. So there are no excuses.”

* Kellogg’s has been supporting British Swimming for more than 15 years on a ‘grassroots to gold medals’ programme of swimming. Visit www.kelloggs.co.uk/freeswim

- PAUL EDDISON