By Tom Degun

Rebecca_Adlington_at_British_Championships_March_2011June 22 - Double Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington (pictured) is set to lead a 40-strong group of British swimmers at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai next month, the biggest event in the sport outside of the Olympic Games.

Adlington will be joined by the likes of World Championship silver medallist Fran Halsall in a strong women's team, while double-Commonwealth Champion James Goddard and World Champion Liam Tancock head-up the men's contingent for the event, which takes place from July 16-31 at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre.

The team also features a group of athletes who have qualified for their first senior national team, including Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, Molly Renshaw, Joshua Walsh and Jak Scott, who secured a spot on the squad with impressive performances at last week's British Gas ASA Championships in Sheffield and who National Performance Director Michael Scott has described as "one of the most competitive British teams ever assembled".

"After two trials, I believe we have one of the most competitive British teams ever assembled," said Scott.

"There will be some big challenges ahead this summer but the squad has real talent and strength, and is best placed to overcome these.

"It's a healthy mix of experienced performers on the world stage, as well as a group of exciting youngsters who will be looking to establish themselves on the team.

"Any World Championships is an important event and marker but the one prior to an Olympic year is a key measure that gives us a strong indication of where we are in our journey to the London 2012 Olympics."

Scott continued that he was pleased with the progress made by British Swimming's World Class Programme and expects a strong performance in Shanghai, with the team set to finalise preparations at a holding camp in Osaka in Japan before arriving in China.

"We are currently well positioned within the World Rankings but this fact should be tempered," explained Scott.

"When we arrive in Shanghai we'll see a very strong and competitive Chinese team with home crowd advantage, and this will significantly support their results.

"We should also look at the fact that there hasn't been a US trials in 2011 so we don't yet know where the world's number one nation is but you can be sure they'll be at the very top of their game.

"As usual we expect tough competition from Australia, our European counterparts and a wider selection of nations all in the hunt for podium finishes.

"It's going to be a challenge for our swimmers but one that they accept and relish."

The performance outcome of the team will be measured across a number of formats as British Swimming looks towards London 2012, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016 Olympics.

"We will of course look at medals won but we'll also measure success by the number of finalists we achieve, semi-finalists and best times posted by athletes," added Scott.

"The overall performance of the team and progression of people are all indicators of success.

"It's a big team as we have included a number of relay alternates in both the Freestyle and Medley relays.

"These World Championships have added importance as they provide a qualification opportunity for the relays for the London 2012 Olympics.

"I'm very optimistic about our performances in Shanghai.

"I feel very positive about our progression within world swimming and believe we are working hard to support swimmers and coaches to achieve success on the world stage."

To view the full team click here.

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