Former Portsmouth Northsea swimmer Gemma Spofforth promised to improve further after qualifying last night for the Olympic women’s 100 metres backstroke final.
World record holder Spofforth and fellow Team GB member Georgia Davies both safely negotiated the heats on the second day of Olympic action got under way at the Aquatics Centre.
While Spofforth admitted she had plenty to improve on in Sunday night’s semi-final, Swansea ITC swimmer Davies was impressive, qualifying sixth fastest as Australian Emily Seebohm set a new Olympic record.
The 24-year-old Spofforth has endured a well-documented turbulent few years of peaks and troughs, both in and out of the pool.
The Florida-based swimmer lost her mother in December 2007, came fourth four years ago in Beijing before claiming the world crown in Rome in 2009 in world record time.
The following year saw the Shoreham-born athlete swim her final competition for the University of Florida, highly emotional for Spofforth as the team had become, and remain, a bedrock for her during difficult times.
The European title followed but by her own admission she went into a slump, with a difficult Commonwealth Games and then last year’s World Championships in Shanghai where as defending champion she failed to make it out of the heats. It was not until the trials earlier this year that Spofforth rediscovered her love for her sport.
Pictured laughing and joking with Beijing silver medallist Kirsty Coventry while waiting to line up for her race, a huge smile broke out across Spofforth’s face when the crowd spotted the Briton behind the blocks.
Here, she did enough to qualify, although she will have been glad to have got her heat out of the way, reaching the semi-final 12th quickest in one minute 00.05 seconds.
Spofforth said: ‘A lot of little mistakes there, my start wasn’t great I slipped on my streamline, finish was awful, there’s a lot of things I can improve on.
‘I let the crowd get away from me a little bit. I’ve been saying all along that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.’