It may have taken her until day seven of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to finally make an appearance but Fran Halsall admitted in her mind she has been the centre of attention for a long time.
Halsall, notoriously a swimmer who competed in multiple events – five medals, including two golds, from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, testament to that – is competing individually in just the 50m freestyle in Rio.
Her chance to shine came during the afternoon of day seven and Halsall very much took it, winning her heat in 24.26 seconds and ranking second overall just 0.03 behind Pernille Blume of Denmark.
And Halsall admitted she has kept herself tucked away during the Games so far, even missing teammate Adam Peaty’s historic gold in the 100m breaststroke, to fully concentrate on her own medal bid at her third Olympics
“I have had a great preparation, I didn’t come into the village until four days ago, I wasn’t here when Adam [Peaty] won and when Jazz [Carlin] got her silver medal,” she said.
“I was excited but not as excited as being in this arena. I kept my emotions low and I feel really good. I have had the best season I could have possibly had.
“I am standing behind the blocks saying to myself whatever happens, happens. I couldn’t have given any more this season or this cycle.
“I have been as professional as I can be, stayed on top of things, stayed on top of illness and done everything my coach has asked me to do.
“If I get the result great, if I don’t it is because other people are better than me on the day. I feel really relaxed with that and I am here just to see what I can do.
“That felt great and I was really happy with it. If I can move through the rounds, move through the semi-final all that matters is the final and in the final it is me against seven other girls and it is going to be close.”
Elsewhere on the final afternoon session neither Stephen Milne, fresh from 4x200m freestyle relay silver, nor Tim Shuttleworth made it out of the heats of the 1500m freestyle.
But the session ended on a high as both Team GB’s 4x100m medley relay teams booked finals spots with the men’s quartet the fastest qualifiers by almost 1.5 seconds.
Led by Olympic champion Adam Peaty on the breaststroke leg, James Guy, Chris Walker-Hebborn and Duncan Scott clocked a new British record of 3:30.47 minutes.
The women snuck into the final as the eighth fastest qualifier and Peaty believes he has more to give as he seeks a second Olympic title and a golden ending to his maiden Games.
“Definitely my swim was every relaxed, I wasn’t really pushing that first 50m or last 50m so it was a bit reserved but hopefully that will drop down quite a bit,” he said. “It is the fastest relay breaststroke split I have done and there are lots more to come.”