STOCKPORT, England, August 15. JAMES Gibson continued his World Championship-winning success to set a new British and Commonwealth 100m breaststroke record on the opening day of the British Short Course Championships in Stockport.
In Thursday’s semifinals, both Gibson and Newcastle’s Chris Cook were under the previous record, with the Loughborough swimmer carving 0.64 off Cooke's six-month-old standard to qualify fastest for Friday’s final.
“I had a bit of a comedown after the World Championships and it as difficult to pick myself up again, so that was fantastic and I’m obviously still in great form,” he said.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow’s final. It should be a great race. It’s going to be tough. That was by no means perfect and I’ve got to work on the technical aspects of my swim because I had some awful turns there.”
Edinburgh backstroker Gregor Tait bounced back from his World Championships disappointment to rob Stephen Parry of his British record in the 200m backstroke, lowering Parry’s year-old standard by 1.59 seconds to 1:52.52. Parry and Stockport teammate James Goddard picked up the silver and bronze medals.
All three swimmers were inside the selection criteria for December’s European Short Course Championships in Dublin, the last major international event before next summer’s Olympics in Athens.
“I can’t complain at that,” said 24-year-old Tait, whose Scottish record placed him ninth in Barcelona after he was forced to swim-off for a place in the World Championship final. “I’ve always thought I could go pretty quickly. It gave me a lot of encouragement being ahead of Stephen Parry because I’m used to chasing him, so that gave me a big push towards the finish.”
Swimming in his home pool, fellow countryman Graeme Smith set a new Scottish record of 3:45.27 to win the men’s 400m freestyle, defeating the defending champion Adam Faulkner of Nova by half a second, with youngster David Davies of Cardiff third in a Welsh record 3:48.14.
“I wasn’t feeling great after the Worlds so coming here I wasn’t sure how I’d swim,” said Smith.
“I’m over the moon, that’s my best by over three and a half seconds and this is looking good for my 1500m, which is my best event. It’s great to swim here at home and for a Stockport swimmer to win gold.”
A closely contested men’s 200m individual medley saw just 0.17 divide the top four swimmers, with Bath’s Robin Francis clinching the title in 1:58.31, with Ian Edmond second in 1:58.46, and Adrian Turner and Gregor Tait two and three hundredths behind, respectively.
“I came from behind to win and it was a great race between all three of us,” Francis said. “I’m pleased because I’ve not swam that race for two years. It wasn’t a perfect race but I felt strong and it was a great time for me, but very very close.”
Mark Foster successfully defended his title in the men’s 50m freestyle final, clocking 21.41 seconds to finish a body length ahead of Loughborough’s Chris Cozens and Alabama-based Matthew Kidd, while Coventry’s Rachel Genner took the women’s 50m breaststroke crown in 31.44, beating Irish international Emma Robinson of Bath and Millfield youngster Rosie Morahan.
Canada’s Jenifer Fratesi finished five meters clear of the field to take the women’s 200m individual medley in 2:11.96, with Hull’s Claire Windeatt the fastest British swimmer in 2:15.09 to win the silver medal, with Glasgow’s Rebecca Cooke third, while Texas-based Georgina Lee lifted the women’s 200m butterfly title, clocking 2.10.82, with Durham’s Joanne Jackson and Lousie Gowans of Southend making up the medals.
In tonight’s semifinals, Barnet’s Sarah Price, the former 200m backstroke world record-holder in the short course pool qualified fastest for Friday’s 100m backstroke final 59.70 in front of Loughborough’s Melanie Marshall and World Champion Katy Sexton. Newly crowned European Junior Champion Stephanie Proud set a British junior record of 1.01.45 to qualify sixth fastest.
Stirling’s Todd Cooper established a new Scottish record of 53.02 to qualify third for the men’s 100m butterfly. Four-time World Short Course Champion James Hickman of the City of Manchester is in the pole position for Friday’s final after a semifinal time of 51.79.
Alison Sheppard set a new Scottish record of 53.75 to qualify fastest for the women’s 100m freestyle final tomorrow, while Owen Morgan lowered his Welsh record to 22.54 seconds in the 50m freestyle semis.