Fulbeck swimmer Sophie qualifies for London Olympics

Sophie Allen prepares for a race at the London Aquatics Centre last week. Photo: swpix.com
Sophie Allen prepares for a race at the London Aquatics Centre last week. Photo: swpix.com
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A FULBECK teenager’s dream of a place on the Great Britain swimming squad for London 2012 has come true.

Nineteen-year-old Sophie Allen qualified for the Olympics at the British Gas Championships selection trials at the London Aquatics Centre last Tuesday.

Two hundred metres individual medley silver medallist Sophie Allen (left) alongside winner and fellow Olympic qualifier Hannah Miley (centre) and bronze medallist Sophie Smith. Photo: swpix.com

Two hundred metres individual medley silver medallist Sophie Allen (left) alongside winner and fellow Olympic qualifier Hannah Miley (centre) and bronze medallist Sophie Smith. Photo: swpix.com

Sophie finished second and won a silver medal in the 200m individual medley, recording the third fastest time in the world this year for the multi-discipline event. She recorded a new English record of 2min 11.71sec, one second quicker than the Olympic qualification standard.

She finished less than a second behind World silver medallist Hannah Miley and ahead of third placed Sophie Smith.

Interviewed after the race, Sophie said she found it hard to put the feeling of elation into words. She said: “It’s unbelievable. It’s everyone’s target and it’s such a relief to have got a spot.”

Sophie began swimming at a young age and was competitive from nine years old with Lincoln Vulcans, with whom she stayed until two years ago.

As a youngster, Sophie was national champion at the age of 11, won silver in the European Junior Championships, two bronzes at the World School Games, and held various national age group records.

Sophie’s mother Lynn put her daughter’s success down to a combination of natural talent and grit and determination. Lynn recalled early morning training sessions at RAF Waddington which saw Sophie in the pool at 5am before going to school.

Lynn said that Sophie knew she had it in her to step up to the Olympic mark, and said all the early mornings had been worth it.

Lynn said: “She’s very excited. It is a big achievement to get there at her age.

“This year she has been going really well, but it was a tough call with four or five girls in the mix.”

The former William Robertson School pupil moved to the Stockport Intensive Training Centre where she trains full time.

Her gruelling schedule has her in the pool between 7am and 9am, and 4pm and 6pm, four days a week, with gym sessions for two hours inbetween. Wednesdays and Saturdays see just one session in the pool.

Looking to July, an excited Sophie said she was looking forward to stepping out on to the Olympic stage.

She said: “It’s my first senior team. I’m just going to take it a stride at a time, and use it for the experience.

“Hopefully I will enjoy it. If I enjoy it, it can only go well.”