Bubbly Halsall in high spirits ahead of Olympics
If Fran Halsall is feeling the pressure of a home Olympics, she isn’t letting it show, which is not surprising for a swimmer whose default mood is unerringly upbeat.
The 22-year-old is one Team GB’s biggest and bubbliest stars and will compete in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle in London - making her one of the swim team's busiest stars.
But with the bulk of the training now complete, the Loughborough-based sprinter knows the next few days are about sharpening up and resting – and pressure certainly isn’t weighing her down.
“I don’t feel like there’s pressure from outside sources coming in to deliver a medal,” said Halsall, who with podium places at the world and European Championship, plus Commonwealth Games, is tipped for success.
“Obviously I have goals in my head that I want to achieve. I’ve been to Olympics before, I’ve won medals internationally before and I want to achieve great things at this Olympics, because it’s a home one.
“There’s no pressure as such, but there’s excitement, especially when 17,000 people are sat there and they’re cheering for you.
“For me, it’s like feeling that people are here to cheer on me and I get more excited about it, and I feel it will bring out performances.
“It’s pretty much about having my rest period and making sure I’m getting enough so for those eight days, I can race as fast as I can.
“If you have too much rest, then you feel like you can’t finish a 100 metres. I’m trying to balance it out and I sat down with my coach and worked through as we’ve got one more week of hard work and then we’ll start easing off and focussing on the details like starts.
“When you’re in hard training, your arms go really slowly and you’re knackered, but just getting them sharp, that’s what I’ll be working on – blasting off the boards quick.”
Halsall got a taste of the excitement building across the country when she attended the official Team GB kitting out event at Loughborough.
And for a self-confessed shopaholic, whose shoe collection could match team-mate Rebecca Adlington, it certainly beat training.
"It’s been great fun,” said Halsall, who competed in the 2008 Beijing Games and finished eighth in the final of the 100m freestyle.
"It's a great chance to relax and have a giggle with your team-mates because this is a very intense time.
"Nothing like this going to happen again, so I’m going to enjoy every bit of the experience and keep smiling."
Meanwhile, Team GB's other sprint freestyler admits her aims for the Games are little less ambitious, although Amy Smith insists Great Britain could be a surprise contender in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
“For my individual events, with where I’ve been at leading up to the Games with rankings, my aim is to make a final and be in the top eight in the world, which is still a great achievement," said Smith, who picked up relay gold and silver at the European Championships in 2010.
"I’d like to think that even though it’s not a medal, people would still see it as an achievement.”
“I’m hoping to be on the 4x100 freestyle relay team and we’re hoping that we can be strong enough. If we all swim to our best, to be there on the podium and aim for a medal of any colour."