Excitement builds at the London Aquatics Centre during swimming event
The London Aquatics Centre was once again at the heart of the action this weekend as the selection trials got underway for the British swimming team. The eight-day event saw a number of new records set and also allowed many athletes to view the facilities for the first time.
For many athletes the event represented a major opportunity to qualify for the London 2012 Games. The energy within the Centre reached fever pitch when British hopeful Dan Fogg produced a grandslam finish, breaking the oldest English record on the books to win 1500m Freestyle gold.
Fogg, who is only the third Briton to beat the 15-minute mark over 1500m, admitted that the surroundings and atmosphere at the event spurred him on to victory. Speaking of his performance, Fogg added: “I think there has only been two guys that have swum under 15 minutes before so to be in the same calibre as Graeme Smith and Dave Davies means so much to me.”
And Fogg wasn’t the only athlete to surpass expectations in the Olympic pool. Thirty-two-year old Dutch swimmer Marleen Veldhuis leaves London as the fastest woman to swim in the London Aquatics Centre beating Belgium swimmer Jolien Sysmans by almost a full second.
Like many international athletes at the meeting, Veldhuis’ main reason for participating was to help familiarise herself with the pool, and her sights are firmly set on the 2012 Olympics this summer.
“It's nice to swim fast in March but it’s my goal to swim fast on 4 August and for my relay team. I expect there will be a lot of competition. I was excited to see the Olympic pool. This pool feels like a home pool to me, it's nicer certainly that ours in Eindhoven and it feels warm.”
There is still time for athletes to qualify for their team, and it was clear from the post-race reactions that many are more determined than ever to make it back to the London Aquatics Centre this summer. An inspired Tang Win of Hong Kong, who finished third in the Women's 800m Freestyle in a time of 8:55.66, said: “It's been amazing swimming here this week. Seeing stars like Rebecca Adlington is so inspiring for me and I hope it will make me a better swimmer. It gives me great motivation for my Olympic selection trials in June where I hope to qualify.”