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SWIMMING TEAM TAKING SHAPE

11th March 2012, 01:21pm

Craig Benson: Will compete in the 100m breaststroke

Craig Benson: Will compete in the 100m breaststroke

The Olympic trials concluded with 38 swimmers having so far been selected to represent Great Britain at the Games this summer.

Keri-anne Payne was the first athlete to book a spot on Team GB when she won the open water event at the World Championships in Shanghai last summer.

At the eight-day trials at the Aquatics Centre that will host this year's competition, 37 more swimmers made the team with British Swimming estimating up to six more will book an individual spot in Sheffield in June.

The likes of Olympic and world medallists Rebecca Adlington, Hannah Miley, Ellen Gandy, Fran Halsall and Liam Tancock underlined their pedigree.

But there were also some noteworthy performances from less established swimmers with real encouragement in the men's breaststroke with all four slots filled at the first time of asking.

Craig Benson, just 17, will compete in the 100m months after being crowned world junior champion. The teenager swims out of Edinburgh's Warrender club, where former Olympic champion David Wilkie honed his skills.

National performance director Michael Scott said: "The men's breaststroke has been very pleasing.

"We've had 200m men coming down to 100m in the past, now we've got two genuine sprinters."

For head coach Dennis Pursley, the breakthroughs by younger swimmers was the most exciting element of the meet.

He said: "They are on an upward progression and theoretically still have a lot of room for improvement.

"There are some challenges of course with the inexperience, but we have that good balance with veterans who are very good at mentoring younger ones so I think it has the potential to come together and be a special team."

There were, though, less encouraging factors, such as the men's sprint freestyle where no-one has yet qualified over either 50m or 100m, with Scott describing the latter field as "tightly packed but not what you would call of true world standard".

There is, though, going to be a sprint freestyle relay in London.

Neither is anybody through in the men's 200m backstroke, which for so long has been the domain of Commonwealth champion James Goddard who is now concentrating on the 200m individual medley.

Scott revealed those who had qualified for the team would enjoy an orientation session, where they would be addressed by double Olympic champion James Cracknell.

They will then return for a training camp at the Olympic pool from April 1-7.

The team for the European Championships in Debrecen in May will consist only of Olympians, but will not be compulsory with some coaches using the second trials in June as preparation and others competing in the Mare Nostrum series in Canet, Monte Carlo and Barcelona as well as the Seven Hills meet in Rome.

The team will assemble in Loughborough in late June to collect their kit before arriving in London on July 16, where they will spend two days before moving up to the holding camp in Edinburgh for seven nights when they will return to the capital.

Scott said: "We go in, it's quiet, they can see the pool in its Olympic look and feel, catch the bus, know where the dining hall is, get the Disneyland effect out of the way and then we go away, come back and it's not new.

"It's another advantage of a home Olympics - we can come in early because we're here but then we get away. We get that taste of the village and that excitement out of the way."

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