Darren Mew Steals the Show at British Nationals

STOCKPORT, England, August 16. JAMES Gibson should have been top billing on the second day of the British Short Course Championships in Stockport, but it was long-time rival Darren Mew who stole the show in the closest final of the night.

Gibson of Loughborough University led the field for the first 75 meters of the men’s 100m breaststroke but Mew, who had previously failed to impress at the World Championships in Barcelona, emerged from his wake to take the gold on the touch.

Four swimmers pushed for home over the final five meters but gold went to Mew in 58.68, Gibson had to make do with the silver in 58.89. Chris Cooke of Newcastle was third in 59.12 and, in a new Scottish record, World Championship silver medalist Ian Edmond was fourth in 59.18.

“I was disappointed to be out of the record breaking semifinal yesterday when Gibson and Cooke both went below the old British record,” said Mew.

“The World Championships for me were shocking and I wasn’t well afterwards. It’s great to come to Stockport and win after a disappointing summer.”

Rebecca Cooke of City of Glasgow reiterated her dominance of the distance events in this country when she took gold in the women’s 800m freestyle in a new British record.

However, the World Championship bronze medalist had to fight for her prize against Canadian swimmer Brittany Reimer who Cooke had eventually beat for a place on the podium in Barcelona last month.

Cooke trailed her Canadian rival until the half way mark but the former managed to raise her race over the second half and put together a strong finish to take a second-and-a-half of her previous record to touch in 8:19.82. Reimer took the silver in 8:23.97 and Keri-Anne Payne of Rochdale picked up the bronze in 8:29.49.

“It felt quite comfortable. I’m doing personal bests a lot lately although I knew the Canadian would be tough competition,” said Cooke. “It was great to race her.

“I’m swimming at the World University Games in South Korea next week so I’m working towards that. The World Championships gave me a lot of confidence – it was great to win a bronze medal.”

Loughborough swimmer Ros Brett set a new British record when she took victory in the women’s 50m butterfly in a new best time of 26.74. Teammate Lisa Chapman was second in 27.02 and Karen Legg of Ferndown was third in 27.43.

"I”ve not swam that fast for a while so I’m really pleased,” said Brett.

The third British record of the night to fall came in the men’s 50m Backstroke when Matthew Clay of Bath secured the gold medal in 24.54. James Goddard of Stockport was second in 24.87 and Liam Tancock of Exeter was third in 25.13.

World Championship long course silver medalist over the women’s 100m backstroke, Katy Sexton of Portsmouth, was in action against closest rival Sarah Price of Barnet Copthall but the result went with form when Sexton took the tight finish in 59.47 to take gold. Price finished with silver in 59.80 and Mel Marshall of Loughborough took the bronze in 1:00.03.

Sexton’s teammate Gemma Spofforth set a new British Junior record of 1:00.45 when she finished fourth.

“I wasn’t feeling so good yesterday so I’m a lot happier with that swim,” said Sexton. “That’s a best time for me and it’s been difficult – a bit of an anti-climax after the World Championships but I came here to qualify for the Europeans and I’ve done that.”

Two of the most experienced swimmers on show at the Grand Central Pool provided one of the tightest finishes of the night.

In the women’s 100m freestyle, Karen Pickering of Ipswich came from behind to take gold in 54.00 ahead of Alison Sheppard of Bearsden and Milngavie in 54.08. Louise Tomlinson of Australia was third in 55.10.

“I really wanted to go under 54 seconds so to go 54.00 really hurt,” said Pickering. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever been so I’m delighted with that. It was all about winning the race and that’s what I’ve done.

“I’ve been around for a long time but that just show’s I’ve still got what it takes.”

The men’s 400m individual medley saw old rivals Robin Francis of Bath and Adrian Turner of Stockport go head-to-head and in a close finish it was Francis who took the honours in 4:08.80 ahead of Turner on 4:09.12. Euan Dale of Millfield was third in 4:17.52.

Francis, who adds the gold to his 200m IM title from day one of the four-day meet, looked comfortable going into the final leg but Turner came back strongly in the freestyle to push the outcome all of the way to the wall.

Kirsty Balfour of City of Edinburgh looked on course for a new British record in the women’s 200m breaststroke but had to settle for her second Scottish record of the day when she lowered her previous best to 2:25.14.

Amy Konowalik of Nova Cenutrion took the silver in 2:28.00 and Stacey Tadd of Bath set a new British Junior record to take the bronze in 2:29.16.

In home waters, Steve Parry of Stockport Metro looked to have the men’s 100m butterfly gold in his possession, but a late flurry by James Hickman of Manchester saw both swimmers tie for first place in 52.52. Matt Bowe of Bath was third in 52.90.

Courtesy: British Swimming

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