British Women Gear Up for Worlds

GLASGOW, Scotland, June 21. BRITAIN'S Alison Sheppard, Sarah Price and Zoe Baker sent a warning to their rivals around the globe when they showed the type of form on the first day of the Scottish Championships (LC) in Glasgow that will stand them in such good stead at next month's World Championships.

All three had already gained the required times to be considered for selection to the national squad at the British Championships in March but once again they turned in the type of performance that they will need to achieve success on the world stage in Barcelona from 20th July.

Price (Barnet Copthall), having already achieved qualification via the 50m Backstroke in March, used the 200m event to cement her place when she took gold in 2:11.52 from Stephanie Proud (Durham Aquatics) in 2:13.14 and Katy Sexton (Portsmouth Northsea) in 2:15.42.

"I'm please to finish first and it was a good confidence boost," said Price, "but I set myself a target time and I just fell short of that tonight.

"It's good to race against Steph (Proud) and Katie (Sexton) as they are world class athletes. To have guys like that on your toes is a real challenge and one that I enjoy.

"The race felt strong for me but I just haven't got the speed to get out quicker at the moment but that will be there in time for the World Championships next month."

Alison Sheppard (Milngavie and Bearsden) proved her class when she was nearly a second ahead of the field in the 50m Freestyle. The Commonwealth Champion, who received an MBE last week, dominated to finish in 25.35 from Karen Legg (Ferndown) in 26.34 and Ros Brett (Loughborough) in 26.39.

Zoe Baker (Loughborough) was also in a class of her own in the 50m Breaststroke. She won in 31.81 from Emma Robinson (Bath) in silver with 32.90 and Kate Haywood (Lincoln Vulcans) in bronze with 33.12.

For those still in the hunt for a place on the national squad, Glasgow provides their second and final opportunity of achieving the consideration times.

One of those still very much in the frame for a place is James Hickman (Leeds) but, despite winning the 100m Butterfly event, he will now have to turn his attention to the 200m event in order to make it to Barcelona.

Hickman's winning time of 53.61 was shy of the 52.82 needed to qualify. Todd Cooper (Stirling) finished close behind in 53.76 and Steve Parry (Stockport) was third in 55.06.

"It was a bit quicker than at the trials in March but it's not good enough to be selected for the World Championships and I'm disappointed about that," said Hickman. "I've still got the 200m Butterfly tomorrow. Everything is riding on that and I'm obviously going to put everything I've got into it."

Mark Foster (Bath), with a qualifying time already for the 50m Butterfly, narrowly missed the standard for the 50m Freestyle when he touched home first in 22.49, the time needed being 22.45, from Chris Cozens (Loughborough) in 23.20 and Seth Chappels (Ferndown) in 23.51.

Gregor Tait (Edinburgh) took top honours in the 200m Backstroke in 2:00.14 with James Goddard (Stockport) in second on 2:01.69 and Nathan Oxford (Nova Centurion) was third in 2:05.06.

The distance events saw Rebecca Cooke (Glasgow) take gold in 4:14.88 from Kerri-Anne Payne (Aquabears, Rochdale) in 4:17.24 while Laura Chase (Portsmouth) was third in 4:18.90.

The men's event saw Adam Faulkner (Nova Centuion) win an exciting race in 3:54.46 from David Carry (Aberdeen) in 3:55.78 and Graeme Smith (Stockport) was third in 3:56.13.

Other winner's on the first day of three day meet included Darren Mew (Bath) in the 50m Breaststroke, in a time of 28.21, and Georgina Lee (Camphill) in the 100m Butterfly with a time of 1:00.79.

— Dave Richards, British Swimming

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