Joy as town swimmer qualifies for London 2012 Olympics

JEMMA Lowe and her family were today celebrating reaching her second Olympic Games after surviving a game of “Russian roulette”.

The Hartlepool swimmer qualified for the 200m butterfly at London 2012 after finishing second at the British Gas Swimming Championships at the Aquatic Centre in the capital’s Olympic Park.

After the tears of agony after missing out on a 100m place on Sunday, last night there were tears of joy for the Lowes, who live in the West Park area of Hartlepool.

Mum Janet, 52, dad Mike, 54, and sister Naomi, 24, watched in awe as the 21-year-old finished in the silver medal position behind her friend and rival Ellen Gandy.

“This week has been a bit like Russian roulette,” Mike told the Hartlepool Mail.

“After just missing out on the 100m spot, it all of a sudden came down to one last chance.

“It has been a really, really painful time for Jemma trying to handle all the pressure and the stress.

“She swam really well and we are so proud of her.

“When we got chance to see her after the race she was telling us how bad she felt in the call room before going out into the arena.

“She had got tingles in her hands which went up her arms and through her body. Jemma felt that bad she thought she was going to pass out.

“She had to go into a corner of the room under the air conditioner to try to calm herself down.

“But then she went out and swam a perfect race.”

It was a brilliant performance from the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and double World championship finalist in 2011.

She did not follow the pace set by Gandy, instead keeping her rival in her sights before launching a late charge and almost catching her close friend at the end.

And last night’s silver medal made up for missing a place in the 100m – at the 2008 games in Beijing Jemma swam in both 100 and 200m butterfly events.

“It was a huge sigh of relief when he got second place last night,” Mike added.

“I couldn’t imagine how she’d have felt if she had not qualified after doing both events in Beijing.

“Missing out on the 100m on Sunday was a horrible, horrible feeling.

“And if she had missed out in the 200, it would have almost been like a death in the family

“It sounds daft to say something like that but that’s what it would have felt like to not get through to your home Olympics.

“When you speak to people or read the press, all the talk is of London 2012 – not to have made it after having swum in Beijing would have been too horrible to contemplate.

“But Jemma has made it and we are so pleased for her.

“I think my poor missus really went through the mill and I don’t know about me going grey, I think i’ve gone bald!

“But Jemma has done it and the Lowes are very relieved and proud.”