COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Halsall and Haywood ready for Delhi challenge
FRAN Halsall famously bought herself a dog as a present for winning her breakthrough silver at the World Championships last year.
GOLDEN GIRL: Fran Halsall has emerged as the new golden girl of British swimming following her five medal haul, including two golds, at the European Championships (Reuters)
Five medals, including two golds, at this year's European Championships and a host more chances at the Commonwealth Games and she had better start clearing kennel space in her garden.
Halsall settled for two relay silvers in Melbourne four years ago and is adamant that nothing but gold will do in Delhi.
Her recent performances in Budapest, including 100m freestyle gold and a victory as part of the 4x100m medley team, were all the more impressive when you consider the Commonwealths have always been her principle target.
"The Europeans were great for me, I really enjoyed swimming there. We weren't fully prepared and ready to go so to do what I did there was incredible," said Halsall.
"But it hasn't really sunk in because I had to get back in the pool and train for the Commonwealth Games, which have always been the main focus. I am looking to improve on what I did in Budapest and take it one step further.
"There is a bit of added pressure on me because I'm probably the favourite for the first time in my career. However, I'm not worried about that at all. It shows that everything is going in the right direction."
Kate Haywood was another who shone in Budapest, putting aside recent poor form to bounce back from disqualification in the 100m breaststroke to win 50m backstroke silver.
Haywood won relay bronze on her Games debut as a teenager in Manchester, upgraded that to silver in Melbourne and is looking to complete the set in India.
But with Australia's Leisel Jones, the Olympic champion over 100m breaststroke, the red-hot favourite, Haywood knows it won't be easy in her individual events.
"She is probably going to be way ahead of the field because she is so far above everyone else and hopefully she can pull me along to some good times," he said.
"I've been doing a lot of work since the Europeans and hopefully, if I can race like I did there, I will be right in the mix for medals."