LONDON, June 30. CONFIRMING rumors that had been swirling around Britain since last Wednesday, the British Amateur Swimming Association announced today that world short course champion and world record-holder, Mark Foster, will swim the 50 meter freestyle after all at the World Championships in Japan in July.
In a World Cup meet in Paris in January, Foster, 31, lowered Anthony Ervin's short course 50 meter freestyle mark from 21.21 to 21.13 seconds. He also ranks second in the world this year in the 50 meters long course with his national record 22.13 second performance in a time trial at the Speedo Super Grand Prix in Sheffield several weeks ago. Only Russia's Alex Popov, with his 21.91, has gone faster.
Foster has a history of swimming well in short course events but has never won a medal at a major international long course event. He was seventh in the 50 free at the Sydney Olympics.
Initially, Foster was named to the british team in the 50 meter butterfly, but not the 50 free in a 27-strong team announced last Tuesday by British Swimming.
But national performance director Bill Sweetenham deided to "relax the rules (which excluded timees swum in time trials) for the sake of the team" allowing Foster, and three other swimmers, to compete in more races.
Sweetenham, who last week said "I don't make exceptions," has now decided to do just that. He has decreed that anyone already in the squad can compete in other events as long as they have swum at least as fast as 16th in the world this year. Foster therefore scrapes into the freestyle by .01 seconds.
The three other swimmers to benefit are Karen Pickering, Katy Sexton and Jaime King.
–by Phillip Whitten