Mark Foster continues his countdown to the Commonwealth Games, for the Cambridge Evening news
I WILL be defending my 50 metres freestyle and butterfly titles at the National Championships in Coventry this weekend — but to be honest I see it mainly as providing some vital practice before next month’s Commonwealth Games.
I don’t mean to be big-headed in saying that, but it is a fact that there are no other British swimmers who could challenge me if I am anywhere near my best.
I think I’ve won the short course titles at the Nationals for about the last 10 years. I’d have to search through the record books to find out when the run started. My real immediate aim is to do the double at the Commonwealth Games, and to make it a hat-trick of wins in the freestyle after winning the event in 1994 and ’98.
If I can’t defend my National titles I might as well not turn up in Manchester where I will be up against some tough, top Australians. Having said that, though, the Nationals are very important for me at this stage of my preparation because I need race conditions. You can train to make sure you are in top physical condition, but my coach shouting, “Ready! Go!” is not going to put me into a racing mindset.
Even though I don’t expect to be pushed in the Nationals, except maybe a little by Matt Kidd in the freestyle, I need races to make sure I have the right level of mental sharpness at the starts, which are very important in short course swimming. Things have gone well in the build-up for the Commonwealth Games, I have no injury or fitness problems and I’ve been involved in some high level competition abroad.
I swam in open meetings in Slovenia, France and Croatia, and came out with two wins and a couple of second places which was very satisfactory. I’m looking forward to being part of a Commonwealth Games being staged in this country, and I hope we can do it as well as the others I’ve been involved in. I’m sure Manchester will put on a good show.