Brits battle for World team spots

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The trials for the World Championships get under way today in Sheffield with just 30 places guaranteed for selection to a Great Britain team that will travel to Barcelona next month.

Twelve months ago hopes were high going into the London Olympics only for Team GB to fall short of expectation with three medals, a silver and two bronzes courtesy of Michael Jamieson and Rebecca Adlington.

There is no question some expectations were unrealistic but the Aquatics Centre represented disappointment.

Changes were made with Adlington’s former coach Bill Furniss and Chris Spice appointed as head coach and national performance director respectively.

One recommendation in the post-2012 review was for sudden-death trials just weeks out from the main event, as with the USA, in contrast to recent years where swimmers had two chances to make the team.

The team will be a smaller one too with tough qualification times, in the belief that those that make it will have a realistic chance of success in Spain.

Adlington’s absence will be a glaring one after the four-time Olympic medallist retired in February.

However, Jamieson - second in the 200m breaststroke last year - has the same relentless drive and determination while the likes of Fran Halsall, Hannah Miley and Liam Tancock have all made world podiums before.

Keri-anne Payne was fourth in the open water in 2012, a year after becoming the first Briton to book herself on to the team with victory at the World Championships in Shanghai while Daniel Fogg claimed a maiden World Cup win in the men’s equivalent in Mexico in April.

There are some highly-promising youngsters including Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, who had already tasted world and Olympic competition by the age of 16, with the likes of James Guy and Matthew Johnson also looking to take the next step on to the team.

Halsall was devastated after failing to claim a medal in London - although it later emerged she had been suffering from a shoulder injury which severely restricted her training, in and out of the water.

A period of soul-searching ensued and with coach Ben Titley leaving for Canada, sprint freestyler Halsall was floundering. However, former world champion James Gibson took over as sprint coach and Halsall rediscovered her love of the sport and her confidence was renewed.

Now the Loughborough swimmer will be looking to book herself on to the team in the sprint, four years after claiming 100m freestyle silver at the Rome World Championships.