By Craig Lord
MANCHESTER, April 11. DARREN Mew broke Nick Gillingham's 10-year-old British record to qualify
fastest for the final of the 100m breaststroke at the British National Championships, and English Trials for the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester tonight.
In a semifinal that pitched title favourites Mew, of Bath University, and James Gibson, Loughborough University, in adjoining lanes, Gibson, the better of the two over 50 metres, gave a hint of what was to come when he turned at the half-way point on 28.45sec, to Mew's 28.90sec, compared with Gillingham's 1992 split of 29.41sec on his way to what was the fastest time in the world that year.
Mew, 22, caught Gibson with 10 metres to go and stretched ahead, his stroke remaining long as Gibson's tightened. The clock stopped for Mew at 1:01.20, 0.13sec inside Gillingham's standard and 0.38sec ahead of Gibson. The final is tomorrow, and Mew, who has not shaved down, said: "There's more to come.".
In the 50m breaststroke Zoe Baker missed her target of 30.83sec, at which South African Penny Heyns has held the global standard since 1999. New Zealand-trained Baker, her only rival the clock, qualified for the
Games and retained the national crown in 31.33sec, 0.29sec outside the European record she had set in her semifinal.
The bronze medalist from the world short-course championships in Moscow last week, Baker hopes to win the inaugural 50m title at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July and August.
The 200m freestyle represented the end of an era, Paul Palmer, former European champion over 200m and an Olympic silver medal winner over 400m, finishing fifth. Palmer, who has taken a job in the international insurance market, may yet race at the Games as part of the 4 x 200m relay but James Salter, the national title finally his, will race the individual event after winning in 1:49.26. In second was David Carry, of Aberdeen, in a Scottish record of 1:50.80.
Sarah Price promised great things in today's 100m backstroke final with a 1:01.44 effort in her semi-final, just 0.12sec outside her own Commonwealth record, in a race that saw 13-year-old Stephanie Proud set a British junior record of 1:03.38.
The efforts of coach Ian Armiger at Loughborough University – set to be Britain's centre of excellence from this summer – paid dividends in the 50m butterfly as teammates Rosalind Brett and Julie Douglas finished first and second respectively. Brett, who had set an English record of 27.14sec in her semifinal on Wednesday, retained the national title in 27.25,
inside the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games. Douglas, on a personal best of 27.99, 0.46sec outside the time needed.