London 2012: Who are GB's top swimming medal hopes?

Britain's swimmers go into the London Olympics with several genuine medal chances. BBC analysts Steve Parry and Karen Pickering assess the main contenders for success in the pool.

Steve Parry, 2004 Olympic bronze medallist

We've got one of the best ever British Olympic swimming teams, which is not surprising for a home Games. We've definitely got a stronger female than male line-up.


Rebecca Adlington, who won double gold at the last Olympics in Beijing, is again our best chance of a gold medal in the pool.

There are four major titles that swimmers think about - the European Championships, the Commonwealths, the Worlds and the Olympics. Becky shot to stardom in 2008 and has won every one of those big four titles.

She is tenacious, fearless, has the confidence, the home crowd behind her, and I think she looks scary-fast in the women's 800m freestyle, where she tops the rankings.

She is a tall lady with an amazing engine and the ability to train her backside off. When you put that all together you have a lethal swimming machine.

Becky is up there in the 400m freestyle as well but she faces the really strong French swimmer Camille Muffat.

Francesca Halsall is a little speedy sprint merchant. I could see her doing very well in the 50m freestyle - the one-length dash of the pool - or the 100m freestyle.

Fran always raises her game, loves the big stage and isn't scared at all of any of these big international names.

I would put Ellen Gandy in a similar place to where Becky Adlington was a few years ago. She got a medal at the World Championships (200m butterfly) last year, but is still very much under the radar.

She trains out in Australia and has avoided a lot of the media attention. She's done all the hard work and I think she looks great.

Hannah Miley is another world medallist (silver) who looks good in the 400m individual medley.

Britain also has Gemma Spofforth, the world record holder in the 100m backstroke and Lizzie Simmonds shouldn't be underestimated as she has been the European 200m backstroke champion.


The men face a tougher task and may only get one medal.

I really rate our 200m breaststroke guys - Andrew Willis and Michael Jamieson. They are training partners at Bath. Imagine going training every day with someone you want to beat at the Olympics. Hopefully they will help each other along.

Liam Tancock is world class in the 50m backstroke. He has held the world record and also been world champion. He's much more of a sprint animal and for the 100m, he's just got to make sure he can hold on for that last 10 or 15m.

James Goddard is now 27 but I think he has a chance of getting a medal in the 200m individual medley, although he is competing in the hardest event. You've got Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and the best European medley swimmer we've seen in Laszlo Cseh.

The Commonwealth champion Robbie Renwick from Scotland is interesting. He's been in an Olympic final before and is strong in the 400m freestyle. I would expect to see him in the final again.

Karen Pickering, former world champion

The British girls are probably the top European team, and if we have a good first day with Hannah Miley in the 400m medley that will set things up nicely. It will give everyone confidence to build on.


The main hope is Rebecca Adlington, who had a little dip in form after the Olympics, which led to questions of whether she could cope with the success.

But she has come through and is a better athlete now because of it all. She'll probably be favourite for the 800m freestyle but I don't think it will be as easy a race as it was in Beijing.

She can deal with the pressure of a tight race. In Shanghai's World Championships last year she was head-to-head with the Danish swimmer Lotte Friis for most of the race but came out on top.

Hannah Miley has a shout, particularly in the 400m medley, and in the 200m butterfly Ellen Gandy is my cheeky little fancy.

Ellie is getting better and better. If you go back a few years, I think she struggled to deliver under pressure when it mattered. She was good in heats and semis but not quite so strong in the finals.

She picked up a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly at the 2010 European Championships in Budapest, and she's not looked back. She's now very, very reliable on the big stage.

She has a very strong last 50m so will be chasing the other girls down. Having the crowd supporting her when she is finishing fast, rather than the person who is trying to hang on, will be a big help.

Fran Halsall will love the occasion. Some people might not be helped by the crowd, the noise and the home pressure, but she will love it. She has done well after surgery on her foot last year, and looks good. She could potentially win gold in the 50m or 100m freestyle.

You can never write off Gemma Spofforth. She is a former world 100m backstroke champion. She's had a difficult time in the past few years and sometimes that's shown in her races.

Her mother died in 2007 and she understandably struggled to cope with that and be motivated enough to really want to win.

Competing at a home Olympics will be motivation enough for her, and she is an amazingly tough, gutsy girl. She looked pretty good at the trials.

Home advantage could really come into play for the relays, and the women's medley relay is very strong.


James Goddard is probably the most talented swimmer in the men's team but he couldn't have picked a worse event in the 200m medley.

It's so strong, with probably the two greatest ever medley swimmers in Phelps and Lochte plus others.

Liam Tancock goes in the 100m backstroke. If the 50m backstroke was in the Olympics, I think you would be talking about a gold medallist, but he's just not quite as strong over 100.

He's likely to be leading at 50m but his competitors will be coming back at him over the second 50 and he's got to hope the crowd lift him to hang on.

Perhaps the most improved performer is Michael Jamieson in the breaststroke, but it will be tough for him to get a medal.

Steve Parry and Karen Pickering were talking to Frank Keogh

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