Recently I was very concerned to read that the IOC/FINA are considering removing the 800m Freestyle from the Olympic Programme for women – as the defending Olympic Champion in the event I would be very sad if this does in fact come into effect for 2012. Given the great history the event has at Olympic level, it would seem strange that the IOC would even consider changing the schedule. I personally see no need to modify the existing programme, however if the IOC and FINA want to create a programme of equality across sexes then they should add both the Men’s 800m Freestyle and Women’s 1500m Freestyle and not remove either the Men’s 1500 or Women’s 800m.
I hope that British Swimming will lobby to keep the event in the programme, as this will not only support my preparations for 2012, but also the rest of the British sportswomen who have the chance to compete in this great race. More and more nations appear to be focusing on the sprint events at the Olympics and therefore, not surprisingly, some would like to see the 800m dropped if the programme was to change and additional 50m stroke events added. However, from a personal point of view, I want to have the chance to defend my 800m crown at the London Games in front of a passionate British crowd.