THERE’S riding your luck and then there’s surfing right on top it – Jemma Lowe did the latter to scrape into the 200m butterfly final at London 2012.
The 22-year-old, having qualified for just the 200m at the Olympic trials back in March, missing out on the 100m, was forced to wait until Tuesday for her first piece of action.
But it was worth the wait, in the heats at least, as a measured Lowe qualified for the semi-finals on the same evening third fastest after clocking 2:07.64minutes.
The semi-final was a completely different story though with Lowe, a world short course silver medallist over 200m, trailing from the start, labouring her way to fifth in 2:07.37.
At the touch it was unclear whether she had done enough to make the final, her semi-final the second of two and calculations needed, however rapturous applause confirmed good news. She finished as the eighth and final qualifier – just four hundredths of a second ahead of Katinka Hosszu of Hungary– and then tried to claim that was the plan all along.
“I think it was timed perfectly. It is job done, I’m in the final. It was perfectly done,” said Lowe. “My coach told me to hold back a bit.
“It is a dangerous game, but the idea was to save energy for the final, and I can’t believe how perfectly it was done.
“When I finished and saw I was fifth I thought the crowd would be devastated because I had no clue what times had been done in the other semi-final.
“They were quite quiet, so I thought I’d missed out, but when it came up on the board I was so relieved.”
Had Lowe’s luck not been in, it would have represented another poor night for Britain’s swimmers with Ellen Gandy, the world 200m silver medallist, crashing out of the heats.
But as it is Lowe is in the final and will have Gandy, who she shared a room at the World Championships in Shanghai last year, cheering her all the way.
“I saw Ellen, and obviously she’s disappointed but she’s happy she made an Olympic final in the 100m butterfly, and she’s just going to enjoy the rest of her time at the Games.”
“She’s got the medley relay to come in a few days, so she’s just going to focus on that.”
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