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Halsall wins butterfly silver at British Championships

British Gas Swimming Championships
Dates: 5-12 March Venue: Manchester Aquatics Centre
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra; daily video highlights on the BBC Sport website


Highlights - British Swimming Championships day two

By Nick Hope
BBC Sport in Manchester

European and Commonwealth champion Fran Halsall made a stunning comeback from injury to claim silver in the 100m butterfly at the British Championships.

The 20-year-old, who only returned to the pool last month following ankle surgery, finished behind Ellen Gandy in 58.99 seconds in Manchester.

"To do that, I'm just so proud of myself," said a tearful Halsall.

The British Championships are doubling up as trials for the World Championships in Shanghai in July.

European silver medallist Gandy won the race in a time of 57.68secs to secure her place on the plane to China.

And Halsall booked her spot alongside Gandy because her time was within Fina's qualification standards, even though second place did not guarantee automatic selection.

"It's been so hard for me to come back from the operation and not be where I want to be," said an emotional Halsall, whose impressive performance came just 24 hours after struggling through the semi-finals to qualify fifth quickest.

"I was awful in the semi-final and I had to just pick myself up and say 'I'm Fran Halsall, I do not swim like that'.

I thought that if I have surgery now, I shouldn't have any disruption leading up to London 2012

Fran Halsall

"Unfortunately the trials have come too early for me and where I need to be right now, so I've just got to give it my best and see what happens."

Last year Halsall became the first British swimmer to win five medals at a single European Championships and defied illness to repeat the haul at the Commonwealth Games.

Her achievements were all the more remarkable as she was carrying an ankle injury sustained in 2009.

"I went over on it while running and wasn't able to train on it for about four or five weeks," said the Southport-born swimmer.

"I needed an injection to get me through the European trials [British Championships in March 2010].

"The pain has been there on and off all year and I thought that if I have surgery now, I shouldn't have any disruption leading up to London 2012."

Any form of invasive surgery carries a risk but, having had her cast removed in early January, Halsall only made her return to the pool four weeks ago.

Fran Halsall

Halsall hopes to be fit for British championships

And her progress since surgery has surprised - and delighted - Britain's head coach Dennis Pursley.

"All the indications are that she's recovered faster than the surgeons and the doctors would have thought," said the American.

"Her focus has been on rehab rather than training in the pool, but she's young and has plenty of time to get back fitness and form."

Halsall still has another three events to contest in Manchester - the 50m butterfly, as well as the 50m and 100m freestyle races - before the conclusion of the British Championships on Saturday, 12 March.

She admitted her achievement on Sunday at the Manchester Aquatics Centre ranked alongside some of her most memorable career performances.

She added: "It's really weird really because you wouldn't think it coming second, but to do that after what I've done, I just shock myself sometimes!"

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see also
Halsall praises her former coach
06 Mar 11 |  Swimming
Adlington swims to British gold
05 Mar 11 |  Swimming
2012 Olympics schedule revealed
15 Feb 11 |  London 2012
Adlington targets Olympic progress
15 Feb 11 |  Swimming
Halsall opts for surgery on ankle
24 Nov 10 |  Swimming
Swimming & Diving on the BBC
29 Jun 11 |  Swimming
Swimming calendar
17 Oct 00 |  Swimming

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