Exciting, yet nerve-racking - Karen Pickering lifts the lid on the Olympic Trials

FOUR-TIME Olympian Karen Pickering has lifted the lid on what Great Britain’s London hopefuls will experience when they take to the pool at the GB Olympic Trials this weekend.

The British Gas Swimming Championships begins on Saturday for a week and Pickering, a four-time Commonwealth gold medallist, will be commentating on the event for BBC Radio Five Live.

Pickering is no stranger to Olympic competition and competed in her first Games, the Barcelona Olympics aged just 20, in 1992.

This time around, the spotlight will focus on the likes of 400m and 800m freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who won two gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, as well as Lizzie Simmonds, Keri-Anne Payne and Jazmin Carlin.

Adlington is expected to qualify for the 400m and 800m freestyle event and Pickering has described what the Mansfield-based swimmer and others will be going through.

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“I remember it being so exciting yet nerve-racking and the GB swimmers will be feeling the tension as the majority of the team will be selected from this event,” said Pickering.

“There will be another Olympic Games in four years time but it will not be in London and there is no getting away from that. You won’t be able to escape the coverage.

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“The fact that the Games are being held in London makes it extra special and there will be no way of avoiding it for those who don’t make the cut.”

Swimmers are unable to avoid each other prior to competition and will often find themselves racing against their international team-mates.

Pickering’s tactic was to just focus on her upcoming race although she did admit that some swimmers would be more outgoing than others.

“Before a race, generally you go into the ‘Ready Room’ where the rest of the swimmers are. I tended to just stay calm and think about my race and how I was going to approach it tactically,” said the Sports Ambassador for Ipswich.

“If you are racing in the freestyle event, you will be competing against people in your relay team so there might be a bit of chat, it depends on the personalities in the race.

“Some people bounce around, some are more reserved. There is a mixed range of characters.”

Meanwhile, Pickering has tipped Adlington to qualify for London but believes she will face tough competition if she is to retain her gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events.

“She (Adlington) should qualify for the 800m freestyle as she is a fair distance ahead of the next best British swimmer in that event and I expect her to be fine in the 400m freestyle too,” said Pickering.

“In terms of where she is in the world, she was pushed all the way by Dane, Lotte Friis at last year’s World Championship 800m freestyle event (Where Adlington won gold).

She also finished second to Italian Federica Pellegrini – the world record holder in the 400m freestyle who, on form, should win in London.”

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