Gemma Spofforth, Britain’s world champion and world record holder for the 100 metres backstroke, may seek five medals at this year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The 22-year-old from Shoreham-on-Sea, who is studying at the University of Florida, has entered the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke events at the British Gas Swimming Championships, which open in Sheffield today and where she needs to finish in the top two in each event to secure her place in New Delhi.

Spofforth hopes to be named, too, in the medley relay team, having been one of the British quartet which missed out on an Olympic medal by one place at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

But she told insidethegames that she was also considering trying to qualify for the freestyle relay.

"Some of my freestyle times back in Florida have put me in possible contention for that," she said, adding that she would probably need to do a time trial over 100m to convince selectors to include her.

"I want to make sure I do what I need to next week, and then get back to work in Florida."

Unlike some of her fellow Britons, she will not need to make any adjustment following the outlawing of the full body swimming suits, as she has raced previously in the partial suits that remain legal.

Spofforth, who is due to complete her degree in psychology next year, will enter the Championships at Ponds Forge, which run until Saturday (April 3) in a buoyant frame of mind, having recently captained the University of Florida to a prestigious team victory at the NCAA Championships.

"As an achievement, that is up there with my world title win," she said.

Britain’s other world champion, Liam Tancock, and double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington will also be taking part in the six-day event, which serves as a trial for both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships.

For British Swimming head coach Dennis Pursley this event provides a vital opportunity to see how the swimmers have coped with their heavy winter training schedules and how they are racing early in the season.

"This event is a little more unknown than our swimmers are used to because it will be their first chance to get a peak performance with the new suit rule," Pursley said.

"The Australians have just had their trials so that will give our swimmers some times to aim towards.

"A lot of our coaches aim for early qualification in order to spend the rest of the year preparing for our benchmark event and I know a lot will be looking to gain early qualification for the Commonwealth Games."

Olympic and World Championship medallist Jo Jackson (pictured) goes into the Championships off the back of a 27-week block of training that has been undermined by illness.

Jackson has only been able to complete five-weeks of work, within her usual heavy-training phase, due to suffering severe asthma brought about by illnesses such as flu and respiratory infection over the winter.

As a result Jackson has no expectation of herself in the 200m, 400m and 800m Freestyle events next week.

"I’ve never been through anything like this and it’s been quite scary," said Jackson.

"I’ve had asthma before but it’s never been as severe and I’ve never experienced the panic that comes with not knowing how to handle it.

"I’m receiving physio treatment twice a day because I’m breathing so hard while trying to train that my ribs keep popping out.

"I’m desperate to train well and get back to my best but it’s hard given my health.

"I have no expectation of myself this year. I’m training the best I can but realistically I have a long way to go to be near my best.

"I am aiming for the Commonwealth Games in October and will be targeting qualification events later in the year."

Article by Mike Rowbottom and courtesy of