LAURA Stephens swam two new lifetime best times in the space of one day on the first day of the British Swimming Selection Trials, in London.

The former Colchester Swimming Club member, who is now based at Plymouth Leander, finished second in her women's 100 metres butterfly final on the first day of action.

Stephens clocked a new personal best (PB) of 57.98 seconds to finish just behind Cardiff's Harriet Jones, who won in a time of 57.79s.

The 21-year-old from Wix, who just missed out on the tough Olympic consideration standard by an agonising 0.06 seconds, had earlier in the day claimed a new PB of 58.56, in the heats.

Stephens held off Keanna Macinnes (University of Stirling) and Alys Thomas (Swansea University) in the third heat to go under her previous best.

City of Cardiff athlete Jones – who impressed at both recent meets in Manchester – had earlier swum well clear of her competition in heat two to beat her lifetime best.

Stephens is also set to compete in the women's open 200m butterfly heats, which start on Friday morning.

Former Colchester swimmer Sophie Freeman is also in action at the event.

She just missed out on a place in the 100m butterfly final, after clocking a time of 1:01.01 in the heats.

Several changes have been made to British Swimming's flagship annual meet on its first return to the scene of the London 2012 Olympic Games in six years.

Ongoing COVID restrictions and a lack of access to pools for so many over recent months seeing the event scaled back.

The ultimate focus is now on selections for senior international competitions later in the year, the upcoming European Championships in Budapest and the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo the inevitable headliner in that list.

Despite the edited set-up and with no spectators able to be in the stands, anticipation was high as athletes prepare to show how every aspect of their hard work over a unique year can pay off at the vital time, with talent on show across the pool over all five days of competition.

Ahead of the meet, British Swimming Performance Director Chris Spice said: "It feels strange going into this meet in slightly unique circumstances and without us being able to have a full complement of athletes, coaches and spectators in attendance.

"We feel for those not able to compete this time around due to Covid restrictions but we remain excited to see what those competing can serve up in London over the coming week.

"These selection trials are a key step in our ongoing journey to Tokyo, and we hope to see some fast swimming that will make the selectors task as difficult as possible when we sit down to add names to the Olympic team next Monday.

"Of course, some swimmers have not been able to prepare for this meet as they would like, which is why we have a three-stage selection process this year.

"Phase one has already occurred with our four pre-selected athletes, this will be phase two of our Olympic selections, and phase three coming after we see performances at the Europeans, the two designated Mare Nostrums, and the Glasgow International meet in June.

"This meet will take place in a COVID-secure bubble, on the back of our recent successful meets up in Manchester in February and March.

"Both of these played an important part in our preparations and help us to feel confident in the overall set-up.

"We would like to thank our partners at the London Aquatics Centre, LLDC and the London region Scientific Advisory Group who have all worked tirelessly with us over the past few weeks to help deliver the meet successfully.

"We hope that swimmers and aquatics fans of all ages who are now able to return to the pool will enjoy the swims on show in the coming days."