Carlin romped home to claim gold in Sheffield with a new personal best of 8:18.58, more than ten seconds under the required qualifying standard for the World Championships in Barcelona next month.
And she credited the inspiration of Adlington for her performance, after pipping young rival Eleanor Faulkner to the wall.
“I’m a bit lost for words, I thought I was ready to do a great swim because I’ve been working hard in training, but to knock six seconds off my best time is unheard of, I couldn’t have expected for anymore," said Carlin, who missed last year's Olympics.
“It was a great race and Ellie (Faulkner) got a best time, and it’s great to know that the distance girls are still doing okay and we can push on for the best in the world and hopefully back it up in Barcelona.
“I always enjoyed racing Becky, she was a great competitor and she did so much for distance swimming. I think it would have been great to race her here again."
Meanwhile, Liam Tancock suffered a surprise defeat in the 100m backstroke final but the reigning four-time champion was full of praise for his conqueror Chris Walker-Hebborn.
Tancock had to settle for second at Ponds Forge, touching home in 54.11 seconds, almost half a second slower than Walker-Hebborn, who clocked the fourth fastest time in the world this year.
Tancock’s personal best time of 52.73 seconds remains the British record but the 28-year-old has now missed out on the chance of competing in the 100m event in Barcelona.
“Chris did a fantastic job and it was one of the quickest times in the world this year and you have to give it to him,” he said.
“It has been pretty tough the last few months for me but it is not about any excuses, it is about getting in there on the day and sport is cut-throat sometimes.”
Elsewhere, Jemma Lowe claimed gold in the women’s 200m butterfly with a time of 2:09.25, but fell just short of what was required to reach Barcelona.
And Scot Hannah Miley retained her 400m medley title for the seventh straight year, clocking 4:35.67.
© Sportsbeat 2013