In a class of her own, world record-holder Adlington was around 12 metres ahead by halfway and was swimming solo by the time she touched the wall in 8:21.95, the fastest time in the world this year. "It was really hard when you swim on your own," said Adlington, who finished 20m ahead of her club mate in second place, Sasha Matthews (8:34.50). "But I'm pleased with the time and looking forward to the summer."
The Championships, though, were overshadowed by the sad news of Adams' passing.
Adlington paid her respects to the Scot. "I was pleased with my swim, but this is a day that should be dedicated to Eileen."
Adams was head coach for City of Aberdeen before moving to Glasgow in 2008. She coached Robbie Renwick, who won the 400m freestyle in Sheffield on Monday and followed up with a silver in the 200m freestyle. Adams coached Renwick to the 200m freestyle Olympic final at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Last year, 21-year-old Adlington struggled to cope with the demands of her new-found fame following her Beijing success, but this year she is determined to prove she is back to her best with both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games as the high points of the year.
The 400m individual medley was billed as a head-to-head between Scot Lewis Smith and Wales' Tom Haffield. But Roberto Pavoni had other ideas and took the title in 4:14.55 ahead of his English colleague, Joe Robeuck (4:15.61).
Haffield, the 2008 Olympian, did manage to pick up bronze in 4:17.47, while Warrender's Smith was a disappointing fourth in 4:19.77. It meant that neither of the favourites qualified for the European Championships.
For Smith, who made his major GB international debut at last summer's world championships in Rome, the attention will now turn to the Scottish Commonwealth Games trials in Glasgow in June.
Fran Halsall, who had already won the 100m freestyle, confirmed her world-class quality by adding gold in the 100m butterfly and was far and away the fastest in the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle.
"I came here concentrating on the 'fly," said the freestyle specialist from Loughborough. "I'm delighted to have won and be able to do both events at the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games."
Halsall won in 57.83 with Ellen Gandy second in 58.64 and Welsh star Jemma Lowe taking the third place in 58.73. Scottish record-holder Louise Pate (Edinburgh University) was sixth in 1:00.51. "Job done now," she continued. "After winning the 'fly it was good to be able to get in and give it a blast in the 50m and now I'm looking forward to another final tomorrow."
Edinburgh University's Kerry Buchan had a solid swim in the semi-finals of the 100m breaststroke and qualified for the final in fourth place in 1:10.46. England's Achieng Ajulu-Bushell, who has switched allegiance from Kenya, was fastest in 1:08.84. Another Edinburgh University swimmer, Iain Macmillan, qualified in ninth place for tonight's final in the 100m butterfly.