By Craig Lord
MANCHESTER, England, April 10. FRESH from her bronze medal at the world Short Course Championships in
Moscow last week, Zoe Baker, of Britain, smashed the European long course record over 50 meters breaststroke in her semifinal at the British National Championships in Manchester tonight – and then declared her intention to take the world record in the final tomorrow.
The record had stood to Baker, who is coached by Kim Swanwick in Christchurch, New Zealand, at 31.23sec since last year. After taking that down to 31.04sec, Baker, 26, declared: "That was a good semifinal swim.
My aim is the world record tomorrow. I need to hit the finish better."
The championships also serve as Trials for the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester in July. Baker is now favorite for the 50m crown. The world record stands to former Olympic champion and now-retired Penny Heyns, of South Africa, at 30.83 seconds.
Beyond Baker, Karen Pickering collected her seventh national crown over 200 meters freestyle since 1992. In the absence of Nicola Jackson, the British record holder who misjudged her morning heats swim and failed to qualify for the final, Pickering qualified for her fourth Commonwealth Games in 1:59.94, the second fastest in the Commonwealth this year just 0.17sec behind Australia's Elka Graham. England's June Croft remains the only woman ever to swim under 2 minutes during a Commonwealth Games, and that back in 1982.
Manchester Aquatics team enjoyed a double celebration in their home pool, courtesy of Graeme Smith, the world 1,500m silver medalist behind Grant Hackett in the 1,500m in Fukuoka last year, and Stephen Parry,
formerly trained in the US.
Smith set a Scottish record of 3:50.64 to win the 400m
freestyle, before declaring his aim to break the European record in the 1,500 meters freestyle next Monday, while Parry retained the 200m butterfly
title in 1:57.64, 57-hundredths ahead of James Hickman, who won the world short course 200m butterfly crown for a record fourth time in Moscow last week.