When Adam Brown chose to train in the United States his decision cost him direct funding from British Swimming, but tonight that mattered little as he felled Mark Foster’s 50 metres freestyle national record at the British Gas Swimming Championships in Sheffield.
It was a stand-out performance on the first night of the meet which acts as the trials for the World Championships to be held in Barcelona next month.
Brown’s record was one of two national marks with Daniel Sliwinski, who missed the Olympics with a shoulder injury, bringing down Darren Mew’s 50m breaststroke.
However, Brown’s achievement stood out.
Foster’s record was set in June 2008 in the shiny-suit era - although not at its peak - but it also represents a triumph for self-belief, drive and determination as well as a love of the sport.
After lowering Foster’s mark by four hundredths of a second in 21.92 seconds, Brown said: “Finally! The first time I went under 22 (seconds) for a long time.
“I am really chuffed, training has been going really well and I am really pumped with that one.”
Joining Brown in dipping inside the required time for the 50m freestyle was 18-year-old Ben Proud of Plymouth Leander.
Brown overshadowed Fran Halsall’s victory in the women’s equivalent.
Halsall had been desolate after failing to secure a medal in London, something she had coveted for so long since being identified as a future champion and installed in former national performance director Bill Sweetenham’s Smart Track programme.
Under new coach James Gibson, Halsall started enjoying her swimming again and tonight she won in 24.54 ahead of Amy Smith, both women attaining the qualification time.
The 23-year-old said: “It was pretty tough because we had the semi and the final in the same session and obviously we won’t get that at worlds.
“It makes it very difficult to swim a very good time but I am really happy with that.”
She also revealed her current plans were to focus on the 50m freestyle and butterfly and possibly forego the 100m freestyle - in which she won 2009 world silver - in Barcelona, having concentrated on the shorter races this season.
Rotherham’s Rebecca Turner, despite qualifying for the semi-finals from the morning session of the 50m freestyle, decided to pull out in order to save herself for her specialist event of 200m which begins on Thursday.
Robbie Renwick and Daniel Fogg were the first to book their places on the pool team, subject to ratification, when they both dipped inside the qualifying standard in the 400m freestyle.
Renwick has already competed in three World Championships and two Olympics despite being only 24 and he led from start to finish today to win in 3:47.02 - although he faded badly on the last length.
Fogg, in contrast, had a well-paced race which saw him come back with every stroke to touch in 3:47.57.
It represented a personal best by three-and-a-half seconds over the heats and final today.
City of Sheffield trio Matthew Johnson, Nick Grainger and Tom Sunter finished fourth, fifth and eighth respectively.
Johnson, aged 18, touched home in a time of 3:49.67minutes, over a second faster than his previous personal best achieved last year and later qualified safely for the final of the 200m butterfly.
Double Olympic finalist Jemma Lowe was by some distance the fastest into the women’s 200m butterfly final in 2:08.79 with Olympian Rob Pavoni quickest in the men’s equivalent in 1:57.16. Sheffield’s Isobel Grant was 12th in the semi-finals.
But Rotherham’s Joe Roebuck showed he’s in good form by finishing less than half a second behind Pavoni.
Former European champion Lizzie Simmonds was comfortable as fastest qualifier for the 200m backstroke (2:11.05), Sophie Allen heads the 100m breaststroke (1:08.57) and Chris Walker-Hebborn leads the way in the men’s 100m backstroke in 53.41 with Liam Tancock fourth.
Sheffield’s David Gregory just missed out on the final as he finished 10th.