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Johnson, 14: Sub-15:45 Over 1,500m

Apr 2, 2010  - Craig Lord

The 1,500m free on the fifth morning of prelims at British Championships in Sheffield went without David Davies, Olympic medallist of 2004 and 2008 over 1,500m and the marathon. We reported why here. Davies told SwimNews this morning: "I'm fine. Just not in shape to do this. Not doing this means I can't go to Israel to qualify for the worlds [10km]. Just one of those things. I'm thinking long term."

In Davies's absence, his training partner with coach Kevin Renshaw at Loughborough, Daniel Fogg, took lane four for the final tomorrow, in 15:37.37, with Thomas Allen, 17, next through on 15:40.58, and Matthew Johnson, 14, on 15:43.48. Impressive swim that from the City of Sheffield swimmer coached by Russ Barber. 

Johnson, a triple winner at UK Schools Games and not 15 until April 23, is one of the quickest of his age in history, a couple of Chinese times leading the way. Looking back, Grant Hackett (AUS) was just shy of 16 before he broke 15:50 for the first time, and Davies was 16 before he broke 16mins. Johnson was entered with a best of 16:03.52. In his 16th year, at 15, the great Kieren Perkins (AUS) zipped down from a 15:39 to a sizzling 15:19.97. He broke the 15min mark at 16.

Renshaw, meanwhile, believes that the best thing for Davies is a rest that may extend to two weeks. "It's the first really big lull in his career, how he feels, since he's been swimming at top flight for the past seven years. There was no point in putting him through this here. He'll have a rest and then we'll take it from there. We'll still have 26 weeks or so to Commonwealths."  

A much anticipated 400m freestyle final was popped in the oven this morning: Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington, of Nova Centurion in Nottingham, leads the way on 4.12.10. Either side of her will be Jazmin Carlin, of Swansea, on 4:13.73, and Anne Bochmann, the 16-year-old from City of Leeds, on 14.46.  In fourth on 4:14.66 was Joanne Jackson, a second swimmer of Renshaw's struggling at the moment. 

The Olympic and world championship medallist was clearly suffering at the end of her heat and was attended by the Britain team doctor before swimming down. Jackson is waiting to hear whether the British health service will give the special permission needed in Britain for her to be prescribed an expensive non-steroidal asthma drug. World-class arthletes are, of course, precluded from taking steroids and other medicines on a banned substances list in sport.

The morning after winning the 100m free crown, Adam Brown, of Auburn and Hatfield, led the way through to the semi-final of the 50m sprint, on 23.13, Next through: Simon Burnett, on 23.22, and Grant Turner, on 23.22.

Stephanie Proud, of Florda Gators and Chester Le Street, clocked 2:12.46 to claim lane 4 for the final of the 200m backstroke. Next through was her training partner out in Florida, Gemma Spofforth, on 2:12.86, with Katherine Venters on 2:14.17 and Olympic and world finalist Elizabeth Simmonds easing her way into a lane next to Spofforth, world 100m champ and 4th by a fingernail over 200m at Rome 2009, on 2:15.43.

James Goddard, coached by Sean Kelly at Stockport Metro, staked a claim in lane 4 for the final of the 200m medley on 2:01.87. Either side of him tonight: Ieuan Lloyd, 16 and coached by Dave Haller in Cardiff, on 2:01.97, and Mark McKenna, of Manchester, on 2:02.70.