Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington produced a demonstration of world-class swimming to win the 800metres freestyle at the British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield despite still being in heavy training that sees her churn out 70,000m a week in the pool.
The 22-year-old has also had to overcome recurring illness that affected her training but she still won by 20m in eight minutes 24.77 seconds ahead of Eleanor Faulkner and Hannah Miley.
Adlington qualified for the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events at next month’s World Championships in Shanghai at the first set of trials in Manchester.
The Nova Centurion swimmer still tops the world rankings in the two longer distances, her time of 8mins 20.23secs in the 800m more than three and a half seconds faster than next fastest Li Xuanxu.
Jazmin Carlin took the second spot in Manchester that sees her world ranked fifth.
Adlington said: “I am really pleased with that time coming here unrested.
“My target was to go under 8:35. I’m not normally a midseason swimmer as well.”
Of Shanghai, she said: “If my taper goes right I can hopefully go nearer to what I did at trials when I was rested and maybe scrape under.
“I just want to race well. I haven’t raced the world since 2009. It’s a very long time to go without racing everyone especially a year before Olympics.
“The main thing is to see where the other girls are at and get a good race at world level.”
European champion Lizzie Simmonds produced the second fastest time in the world in 2011 in the 200m backstroke. She booked her spot in the 100m event on the first night of competition after a top effort of 2:07.49 placed her behind only Australia’s Belinda Hocking a little more than five weeks before Shanghai.
Chris Walker-Hebborn added a berth in the 100m backstroke alongside Liam Tancock to the 200m while Simon Burnett secured a 50m freestyle spot.