BATH, England, May 10. TWO of the world's greatest breaststroke swimmers showed the type of qualities both they and their British colleagues will need to excel at this summer's World Championships when they faced each other in a tense final at a special preparation meet in Bath.
Loughborough University's James Gibson and University of Bath's Darren Mew, having faced each other many times, are all too familiar with the strength of mind and body needed to beat the best in the world as they both fall into that category.
And today it was Gibson's turn to take the honours, following an intense 50m Breaststroke battle, as he sneaked the touch in 28.28 from British Champion Mew in 28.37 with City of Newcastle's Chris Cook third in 29.39.
It was the highlight of the second day of the three-day meet which has been designed to up the demands made on those swimmers targeting the World Championships in Barcelona just over two months away.
Barnet Copthall's Sarah Price looked comfortable as she took both the women's 200m and 50m Backstroke titles. Over the shorter distance she finished in 29.85 from Loughborough University's Karen Lee in 30.96 while Portsmouth Northsea's Gemma Spofforth was third in 31.12.Over 200m Price touched home in 2:13.58 with the rest of the field well adrift.
With a quality field contesting the women's 200m Freestyle it was always going to be close but this looked unlikely when Loughborough University's Mel Marshall went out hard and built up a good lead to hit 100m in a very fast time.
She almost paid the price for her early efforts, however, as Ferndown Otters' Karen Legg came back strongly over the final 25m but Marshall managed to hold on to get to the wall first in 2:01.87 from Legg in 2:01.97. Karen Pickering of Ipswich was third in 2:04.52.
Gregor Tait of City of Edinburgh looked at home in the 400m Individual Medley, an unfamiliar event for the backstroke specialist, and led from outset to touch home first in 4:29.40 from University of Bath's Alan Bircher in 4:35.72 whose teammate, Dan Pilbrow, was third in 4:38.86.
The men's 400m Freestyle saw the experienced Graeme Smith of Stockport Metro fend off the efforts of a young challenger in University of Bath's Ross Davenport. Smith finished in 3:58.70 ahead of Davenport in 3:59.62 and Lee Forster of Bath in 4:06.86.
Other notable performances saw Rebecca Cooke of City Glasgow take the 800m Freestyle honours in 8:47.19, Robin Francis of Bath won the men's 200m Butterfly in 2:04.31, Mackenzie Howe of Cardiff touched first in the women's 200m Individual Medley in 2:21.66, Edinburgh's Kirsty Balfour won the 100m Breaststroke final in 1:11.06, Stockport's James Goddard was first in the 100m Backstroke event in 57.46, Mark Foster of Bath took top honours in the 50m Butterfly in 24.91 and Karen Legg won the 50m Freestyle in 26.00.
(Courtesy British Swimming)