A near sell out crowd were on hand at the third evening of finals here in Cambridge and they were treated to a super evening of swimming as the next 7 titles for 2002 were decided. It was action all the way, but the first event, the 1500 really got the atmosphere started.
Graeme Smith fades to third in the 1500
The 1500 was a mouthwatering appetiser for the remainder of the session and more than lived up to it’s billing as the three main protagonists in the centre lanes battled it out. For 300m there was nothing to choose between Graeme Smith, Adam Faulkner and young David Davies. Suddenly though, between the 400m and halfway marks, Davies turned the screw and made a decisive break. Initially Faulkner was able to track the move, but Smith was a spent force, dropping steadily away through the mid section of the race. Davies was ruthless though, as he lapped swimmer after swimmer and left Faulkner in his wake. Having set a senior Welsh record for 800m on the way through, he stormed home in style, having swum the last 600m in splendid isolation, opening up a lead of almost 25m over his nearest rival. That was Faulkner who had his hands full holding off a late surge from Smith for second. Davies meanwhile posted a superb 14.54.60,a 23s PB, a senior Welsh record by 10s and also breaking the GB junior record, which has stood for 21 years, by 33s. The event really got the crowd going and ensured a great atmosphere for the rest of the session.
Becky Cooke was once again in commanding form and never looked like surrendering her British title, one she has held for the past three years. She was a class apart from the rest of the field as she swam away from them immediately from the start. From that point on there was no doubt over the result, Cooke coming home in 4.08.58, just outside her best. Karen Nisbet was second with the impressive Kerri-Anne Payne form Rochdale edging the bronze medal position.
The men’s 100IM is another intriguing prospect. Medley specialist Adrian Turner undoubtedly has the technique for the event, but the raw power of some of his competitors may prove his undoing. Nonetheless the Salford swimmer was comfortably the fastest in his heat, winning it in 57.75. That power was clearly on show in the second semi, were Ian Edmond came home first in 56.74. A fascinating final is in store for tomorrow.
The women’s 100 breastroke semis went completely to form, Kate Haywood and Kirsty Balfour and qualifying in first and second respectively. This really is an event that is all about youth, with the 8 finalists average age being just 17.
Steve Parry was once again busy as he took on both the semis of the 100m backstroke and just two events later the 200m fly final. The former was relatively straightforward as Parry won his semi and qualified fastest, touching out Gregor Tait who was second through to tomorrow’s final. The 200 fly proved a bridge too far for the big man though, having had only 7 minutes to recover. World champion James Hickman took the race by the scruff of the neck, squeezing every last bit out of the underwater sections round the turns and leaving the field for dead. Hickman came home in a solid 1.52,but Parry in second was also well under the required time for selection, and the absence of any juniors, should make the trip to Germany.
The women’s 100IM finals went exactly with form. British record holder Alison Sheppard showing her intent for the gun, blasting off down the fly leg to give herself a comfortable lead. Se maintained that position down the backstroke, but most impressively extended her lead down what is regarded as her weakest section, the breastroke. From that point on it was a foregone conclusion that she would win, which she duly did posting a time of 1.01.86. 16-year-old Alex Savage of Ferndown, capped an impressive performance in this meet with silver and Gemma Howells took bronze.
Howells was soon back in action in the semis of the 100 fly, where she eased through to the final with first in her semi. Fastest through though was Loughborough’s Ros Brett, who looked silky smooth in qualifying fastest. She pipped Karen Pickering who is branching out into this event “for fun”. That said she was still second fastest into the next round.
The blue riband event of the day, the men’s 100m was a thrilling spectacle. For 75m it was almost as though no one wanted to take the lead, with the whole field covered by a tiny margin. The final turn though saw Matthew Bowe put in a finishing burst that fastest qualifier Alex Scotcher just could not respond to as he surged clear of the field. Bowe is clearly reaping the benefits of 6 weeks in Australia training with Ashley Callus, although his time of 50.16, despite being a PB, was outside the selection time for Europe. A winter on the World Cup Circuit awaits him. Scotcher took the silver and Bowe’s Bath teammate Ross Davenport took third.
With a comfortable semi final victory under her belt, Sarah Price was on course to again confirm her position as the premier British backstroker. hat she did but was pushed all the way by Zoe Cray and at the end by Melanie Marshall who stole in to deny the Ipswich swimmer silver. Cray then took the bronze.
Darren Mew fresh from his 100m win yesterday was in no mood to let his domestic rivals take the 50m breastroke title. He set out his stall in the semi, recording a time almost a second faster than his nearest rival. It was not that easy in the final though, as James Gibson took him all the way to the wire. In the end only 0.2 s separated them as Mew took the touch.