SHEFFIELD, England. July 29. Helen Don Duncan and Adam Whitehead turned in sparkling times on the fifth day of the British Olympic Trials at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
Duncan took the women's 200 meter backstroke in 2:11.25, beating out Joanna Fargus at 2:12.10, but it wasn't easy. Sarah Price went for broke and took the race out hard, turning at 30.78 at the 50–nearly a full second ahead of Duncan and Fargus. The gutsy pRice extended her lead, splitting 1:03.45 at the half-way mark, exactly 1.6 seconds ahead of her two rivals, who turned in identical times of 1:05.05. In the third 50, Price began to fade, but still held the lead at the final turn, leading Duncan by 0.39 seconds and Fargus by 0.54 seconds. But the fast early pace finally caught up with Price on the final 50 meters, as she faded to fourth (2:13.91).
Adam Whitehead also came from behind to earn his ticket to Sydney, though his race was somehwat less dramatic. Surprising Ian Edmond, the top semi-final qualifier, took a big lead on the first lap, turning in 30.50 seconds to Whitehead's 31.15. Gradually, the favorite closed the distance, but Edmond still turned first at the 100, 1:04.58 to 1:04.74. That's when Whitehead went to work, capturing the lead just after the turn and extending it with every stroke. At the wall, it was Whitehead in 2:14.14, Edmond at 2:15.62–personal best times for both men.
The women's 200 fly was entirely a two-woman battle the entire way, with Georgina Lee, who led at the 50 and 100, the eventual winner in 2:11.36. Margaretha pedder, who made her move after the first 100 meters and had a short-lived lead at the final turn, was second in 2:11.59.
The men's 100 free was a very close race from top to bottom, with barely a quarter of a second separating the entire field. Mark Stevens, tied for sixth at the 50 at 242.29, came on strong in the final lap to win in 50.4, with Paul Belk an eye-blink behind at 50.47. Matthew Kidd, the fastest semi-finalist (50.37) and, at 21, the youngest man in the field, took the race out hard, turning first in 23.74. But he faded coming home and dropped all the way to seventh (50.63).
Paul Palmer picked up his third gold medal of the Trials, winning the 1500 meter freestyle in 15:17.53, as he bided his time until the final 100 meters, sprinting just fast enough to edge Adam Faulkner at 15:17.84. Graeme Smith was the early leader, but Palmer took over at 400 meters, gradually lengthening his lead over Faulkner, who passed Smith right after Palmer did, to 2.6 seconds at the 900-meter mark. At that point Faulkner made his move, gradually cutting the margin between himself and the leader. Faulkner took the lead at 1300 meters and turned at the gun with a one second lead. But Palmer's sprint was too much fot Faulkner, as the two finished some 14 seconds ahead of the third place finisher.
In semi-final action, James Hickman clocked 53.50 to lead the men's 100 meter fly, with Robert Greenwood second in 54.01. Karen Pickering (55.63) and Alison Sheppard (55.78) are headed for a showdown in the women's 100 free. The men's 200 back appears to be a two-man contest with Adam Ruckwood (2:00.76) and Simon Militis (2:01.65) well ahead of Gregor Tait (2:04.39). Heidi Earp goes after a sweep of the three women's breaststroke events, but it should be a contest. Earp qualified first in 2:31.23, a tenth of a sceond ahead of Jaime King.