By Tom Degun

Rebecca_Adlington_silver_medal_Shanghai_July_24_2011July 24 - Rebecca Adlington claimed Britain's first medal in the pool at the 2011 World Championships as the double Beijing 2008 Olympic champion picked up silver in the 400 metres freestyle behind Italy's defending world champion Federica Pellegrini.

Having qualified seventh fastest for the final of the event, Adlington was placed out in lane one and not expected to medal but the 22-year-old from Mansfield produced a gutsy display and her trademark strong finish to pick up silver in 4min 04.01sec.

The time, however, was some way off that if Pellegrini as the 22-year-old Italian, the world record holder, stormed well clear to win in a blistering time of 4:01.97 to confirm her status as gold medal favourite in the event at the London 2012 Olympics next year.

France's Camille Muffat claimed the bronze medal in a time of 4:04.06 to finish just behind Adlington and the British star admitted she was delighted with the result.

"I'm so pleased with that swim after this morning," said Adlington.

"I was quite down after my heat as I didn't expect to swim so slowly but I picked myself up and that was so much more positive tonight.

"I tried to stay with [Australia's] Kylie Palmer and from my outside lane didn't really see anyone else.

"I saw a pair of feet in the distance, figured it was Pellegrini and knew I couldn't catch her as she's so far ahead at the moment.

"Pellegrini is an amazing athlete and I'm just please to get the silver behind her.

"Two years ago in Rome I took the bronze so this meet is better for me already."

The only other British swimmers in final action in the pool were the 4x100m freestyle relay team.

Also in an outside lane, the quartet of Adam Brown, Liam Tancock, Grant Turner and Simon Burnett finished eighth in the final as they touch in 3:15.03.

The time was well behind that of the medal winners with Australia taking gold in 3:11.00, France picking up silver in 3:11.14 and the United States claiming bronze in 3:11.96 in a quartet that saw America's 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps make his debut at the event.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]