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Pickering Cracks 2 Minutes in the 200 at British Super Grand Prix Day One -- June 2, 2001

MANCHESTER, England, June 2. THE BRITISH Swimming Federation hired veteran Australian Bill Sweetenham last year following a dismal Olympics showing as national team coach with the express purpose of "toughening up" their elite swimmers and making them more competitive internationally.

If results from last last night's opening session of the British Super Grand Prix here are any indication of Sweetenham's methods, the Commonwealth in general, and Australia in particular, had beter take notice.

Competing in the same new multi-megabuck pool that will serve as the venue for next year's Commonwealth Games aquatic competition, Britain's Karen Pickering --a 30-year-old veteran of three Olympics -- amply demonstrated she's NOT ready for that rocking chair just yet as she blasted to a national record in the 200 meter freestyle with her 1:59.65, third-fastest globally for 2001.

The old record was 1:59.74 by June Croft from the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane that October -- and Croft had been the only British woman ever under the "magical" 2:00.0 barrier until last night.

After touching the wall and absorbing the outcome on the giant scoreboard, Pickering punched the air in exultation and said she had come into the meet "not knowing what was going to happen." She added that she felt good after her morning swim and swam quite a bit faster than she had anticipated.

Her old pr was a 2:00.33 from the Barcelona Olympics and last year she ranked 36th globally with a 2:00.67, a tad slower than her 2:00.62 from the previous year.

Two other British women also produced prs in the race with Trials winner Karen Legg slicing her career-best 2:00.45 down to 2:00.07, and Nicola Jackson going 2:00.32, down from 2:00.56 last year. Throw in another 2:00.0 leg (perhaps Claire Studdart, who went 2:01.3 last year) and Britain will definitely be in the 800 free relay medal hunt at the World Championships next month.

Interestingly, Australia has Elka Graham (1:59.77),
Giann Rooney (1:59.50) and Petria Thomas (2:00.17)
plus several others in the 2:00-2:01 range to form a relay team.

So suddenly two Commonwealth nations are among the favorites going into Fukuoka. However, Australia was favored to win the gold at Sydney last September -- and came in one place lower than that when the splashing concluded.

The other events on the program yewterday were the women's and men's 200 backstroke. In the former, 19-year-old Joanna Fargus, already ranked second globally for '01 with her pr 2:11.81 from the Trials here in April, went 2:11.35 -- second in the world this year and .10 off Helen Don-Duncan's NR 2:11.25 from last
year's Olympic Trials.

In the men's race, Scotland's Gregor Tait -- runner-up to Simon Militis at the Trials (2:02.73-2:02.85) -- dropped his pr-NR to 2:01.85. The old standard was 2:02.01.


--Bill Bell

British Super Grand Prix
Sheffield, England

DAY ONE: June 1, 2001

50 meter pool


Final WOMENS 200 Metres FREESTYLE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Karen PICKERING (71) Ipswich 1:59.65 National Record
28.97 59.70 1:30.20
2. Karen LEGG (78) Ferndown 2:00.07
28.37 58.86 1:29.68
3. Nicola JACKSON (84) Derwentside 2:00.32
28.48 59.36 1:30.16
4. Janine BELTON (79) Loughboro Un 2:04.38
28.90 1:00.34 1:32.49


Final MENS 200 Metres FREESTYLE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Paul PALMER (74) Bath Univ 1:51.06
26.43 55.31 1:23.39
2. Adam RUCKWOOD (74) Co Birm'ham 1:51.70
26.43 55.18 1:24.16
3. Graeme SMITH (76) Stockport Mo 1:51.77
26.91 55.18 1:23.47
4. Jamie SALTER (76) Co Edinburgh 1:51.78
26.36 55.24 1:24.20


Final WOMENS 200 Metres BREASTSTROKE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Jaime KING (76) Bath Univ 2:29.54
34.91 1:13.46 1:51.47
2. Heidi EARP (80) Nova Cent'n 2:32.61
35.16 1:14.16 1:53.31
3. Caroline WARREN (82) Torfaen 2:36.37
36.34 1:16.54 1:56.71
4. Amy KONOWALIK (86) Nova Cent'n 2:37.65
35.71 1:16.04 1:56.61


Final MENS 200 Metres BREASTSTROKE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Ian EDMOND (78) Co Edinburgh 2:16.49
31.10 1:05.92 1:40.88
2. Adam WHITEHEAD (80) Co Coventry 2:17.18
31.87 1:06.78 1:41.85
3. Chris COOK (79) Co Newcastle 2:18.02
31.19 1:06.43 1:42.32
4. Darren MEW (79) Bath Univ 2:19.52
30.85 1:06.53 1:42.81
5. Anders WOLD (81) NORWAY 2:20.33
31.46 1:06.77 1:43.16


Final WOMENS 200 Metres BACKSTROKE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Joanna FARGUS (82) Bath Univ 2:11.35
31.43 1:04.80 1:38.60
2. Katy SEXTON (82) Portsmouth N 2:13.06
31.88 1:05.30 1:39.58
3. Julie FORT (82) Co Newcastle 2:18.04
32.63 1:07.31 1:42.93
4. Helen DON-DUNCAN (81) Co Coventry 2:22.05
33.21 1:08.74 1:45.41


Final MENS 200 Metres BACKSTROKE
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Gregor TAIT (79) Co Edinburgh 2:01.88
28.58 59.06 1:30.33
2. David O'BRIEN (83) Prescot 2:04.39
29.45 1:00.52 1:32.54
3. Simon MILITIS (77) Portsmouth N 2:05.69
30.09 1:01.80 1:34.22
4. Tom HARNETT (82) Beckenham 2:08.04
30.16 1:02.30 1:35.54


Final WOMENS 200 Metres BUTTERFLY
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Georgina LEE (81) Camphill Ed 2:11.68
29.84 1:03.16 1:37.56
2. Margaretha PEDDER (80) Portsmouth N 2:12.61
30.39 1:03.77 1:37.87
3. Caroline SMART (82) Portsmouth N 2:13.88
29.97 1:03.19 1:38.24
4. Holly FOX (84) Reading 2:14.72
31.05 1:05.23 1:39.98
5. Lee KELLEHER (82) IRL 2:22.12
31.83 1:07.58 1:44.70


Final MENS 200 Metres BUTTERFLY
Place Name YoB Club Time 50 100 150
1. Stephen PARRY (77) Stockport Mo 1:59.81
27.15 57.69 1:28.67
2. Robert GREENWOOD (79) Bolton Metro 2:01.81
27.29 58.16 1:29.42
3. Richard HAMPSON (81) Wigan Wasps 2:02.43
28.13 59.28 1:30.97
4. Darren WIGG (80) Co Newcastle 2:02.82
27.44 58.64 1:30.50
5. Erlend VETNES (78) NORStavanger 2:10.34
28.37 1:01.10 1:35.17