- 14 Jul 08, 09:14 AM
Last weekend, the Olympic swimming squad and those who have aspirations to be on the team in 2012 were put through their competitive paces.
In truth, four weeks out from the Games, lightning fast times weren't expected but it gave us a decent barometer on how Britain's medal prospects are looking.
After the competition, at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre, I'm firmly convinced that there will be more British finalists than we have seen for many years and that, with it's mix of youth and experience, this is the most cohesive squad that has represented GB in swimming at the Olympics in recent memory.
I know that I have already flagged up the men's 1500 metres freestyle in Beijing as being THE event to watch and after witnessing David Davies set a new British record in the non-Olympic 800m event, I believe that he has a realistic shot at getting a medal in the pool event and the 10km open water challenge which follows the week after.
If you want a mentally focused and physically attuned swimmer, there won't be many who beat the Welshman on that score.
Rebecca Adlington put in another performance of below eight minutes 30 seconds in the women's equivalent, the 800m freestyle, which should be one of the highlights of the programme from a British point of view.
The Mansfield-based swimmer is ranked number one in the world for 2008, but both she and coach Bill Furniss are keen to play down her tag as a potential favourite.
She will be up against a couple of experienced Americans and an Italian who have recorded similar times this year, but if she can take her attitude from the environs of Merseyside to China, then it will be worth getting up at 0300 BST on 16 August to watch and listen to the 19-year-old take on the world.
Hannah Miley continues to impress in both the 200m and 400m Individual medley, the latter providing more potential for a podium finish at the Olympics.
The new British record-holder in the 200m freestyle, Joanne Jackson, appears to get stronger with every swim and will be a vital cog in the wheel of the much-fancied 4x200m freestyle relay team.
You may have noticed that, Davies aside, most of the talk has been about the women - that's because they offer us the most likely medal chances.
But, Liam Tancock, who has been keeping his powder dry in his main event, the 100m backstroke, has shown he'll be in the mix, and along with James Goddard they provide a potent force in the men's 200m individual medley.
Four weeks out, however, one swimmer who has been off the medal radar, impresses me more and more and I think could be one of the surprises of the Games in the pool.
That's Edinburgh's Kris Gilchrist.
His improvement over the last 12 months has been immense, and in Liverpool, in the middle of hard-training, as all the swimmers are, he posted a time of two minutes 12 seconds in the 200m breaststroke.
That's not going to pull up any trees in Beijing, indeed he may have to swim two seconds quicker just to make the final, but I have a hunch that the 24-year-old might carry on the tradition of Wilkie, Goodhew and Moorhouse in making a big splash at the Olympics.
Just don't ask too many of them to audition for 'Strictly Come Dancing' later this year.
As a bonding exercise before the first session in Liverpool, Olympic bronze medallist and now BBC 5 Live summariser Steve Parry, dreamt up (perhaps nightmare would be more appropriate) a ballroom dance session with a local teacher, much to the horror of most of the male members of the team.
Some took to it like the proverbial duck to...yes, you're ahead of me there, but if they ever invent two footed-ness as an Olympic sport, many of this squad would be potential world champions.
I'll be calling the first races in Beijing and I hope my optimism regarding the GB swim squad is not misplaced.
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