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WR 800m free final "best experience"

13 August 2016

SWIMMING: Distance freestyler Jessica Ashwood has finished fifth in a world record-breaking 800m freestyle final that saw the USA’s Katie Ledecky clock an inspiring time of 8:04.79 at the Rio Aquatic Centre.

Ashwood’s time of 8:20.32 was outside her personal best but the 23-year-old said she was happy with the way she put her race together and was buoyed by the support of her Australian teammates cheering on in the stands.

“It was really, really good. One of the best experiences I’ve out there,” Ashwood said.

“The team told me where they were going to be sitting and I knew they’d be really close tonight so being able to walk out and hear them cheer, normally it makes me too nervous but I found it really helped.

“I’m really serious when I get nervous and I’m not a serious swimmer.

“When I hear them cheering for me it helps relax me a lot so it was really good to have them there tonight.”

As Ledecky continues to raise the bar even higher for women’s swimming, Ashwood said she was inspired rather than intimidated by her results.

“You try not to idolise her because you’ve got to race her but what she’s doing is really, really great and it’s always really exciting to see,” Ashwood said.

“I think it’s really inspiring for all the girls.”

The minor medals came down to the touch with Great Britain’s Jazmin Carlin sneaking into second place with a time of 8:16.17 and Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas third in 8:16.37.

Next on the agenda for Ashwood is a little trip away and then back to the pool to re-assesand continue her rise up the ranks of distance swimming. 

“I’ll have a bit of a break now. Just a little one!” Ashwood said.

“I’ve booked a trip to Canada and then back into it in September.” 

Fifth place finish fires up Hocking

Belinda Hocking vowed to continue competing after she swam her heart out in the final of the women’s 200m backstroke, finishing fifth in a time of 2:08.02.

Hocking, who had a year away from the sport in 2015, was right in the mix for a medal for the majority of the race but just couldn’t hold on and faded in the final metres to touch fifth overall.

The 25-year-old was hoping for a personal best time and after falling short tonight said she was far from done with the sport.

“I definitely want to finish my career knowing that I have done the best race possible and because I didn’t get that tonight I will definitely be continuing after this,” she said soon after her race.

“If I had done a personal best and gone onto the podium things might have been a bit different but I don’t want to finish my career off not having my best swim. I’ll keep going until I achieve that.”

Hocking had a great preparation coming into the Games and is now hungrier than ever to continue competing.

“I don't think it's anything in terms of physical I had a really good warm up, I think that it's something that I've spoken to a lot of people on the team that as soon as you hear that word Olympics it does change things,” Hocking said.

“It's not just  any other meet, it's not just a pool with water in it and I think that sometimes you can get a bit ahead of yourself.

“And sometimes in a stadium like this you're a lot more aware of what's happening and what's going on around you but as I said I couldn't have done anything more and I want to finish my career off knowing I've done the best race possible.

“Because I didn't get that tonight I'll definitely keep swimming after this.”

The gold medal was won in the last lap with the USA’s Maya DiRado (2:05.99) edging ahead of Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (2:06.05) to take the win, with Canada’s Hilary Caldwell (2:07.54) rounding out the top three.

‘People love gold medals but they love people more’

The emotions of a roller coaster 24 hours for Cate Campbell spilled over moments after she joined sister Bronte in the final of the 50 metres freestyle which will be swum in the last night at the Rio Olympic Aquatic Centre.

Cate Campbell told of how the flood of supportive messages lifted her spirits to enable her to qualify second fastest for the final in a time of 24.32.

A teary Cate reflected on support of the nation.

“I am stoked to be through to the final and not going in with any expectations,” Cate said.

“It’s been really tough. I’ve figured out of been swimming for over half my life and half your life comes down to less than 60 seconds.

“I don’t think I have ever received so many messages of support, and people have come up and called me a legend when I’ve felt like an idiot which I think is the highest of compliments.

“I can’t remember who it was but they said ‘people love gold medals but they love people more’ but to hear that was really, really touching for me.

“It’s the first time I have cried in an interview and it wasn’t talking about the results but talking about the outpouring of support and the Australian people really came through when I needed it.”

The top qualifier was Denmark’s Pernille Blume, just 0.04 of a second ahead of Cate in 24.28, with younger sister Bronte also safely through to the final in a time of 24.43.

“Really happy to be in that final it was really, really quick to get through,” Bronte said.

“It's tough backing up after the 100m last night, it's very tough to do two fast 50s and I'm really pleased I managed to come out and do that.” With less than 0.3 of a second separating the entire final field, the race tomorrow is anyone’s for the taking, including both Cate and Bronte.

“I've got a whole day off tomorrow and one more race of my 2016 Olympic campaign, it's 50m and I can't wait to give it a go,” Bronte said.

Kathleen Rayment

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