Normal service continued almost uninterrupted at tonights’ finals session as the England commonwealth team members again produced solid if unspectacular swims in their final competition before Manchester. They didn’t have it all their own way though and there were some surprising results as the session progressed.
Matt Kidd retained his position as the UK’s top freestyler winning the 100 free in a comfortable 51.82, although he was pushed all the way by Coventry’s Greg Booth who finished a surprising joint second with Loughborough’s Chris cozens. Kidd will be looking for a much faster time, under 50s, come Manchester if he’s going to get in amongst the medals. The women’s final was a more surprising affair, with Karen Legg showing good speed to outpace the more specialist 100m swimmers and post a winning time of 56.23, just a quarter of a second off her lifetime best. Medley swimmer Sarah Whewell touched out freestyler Melanie Marshall for second with Karen Pickering 4th. NIcola Jackson continued her rehabilitation with a time just shy of her best in 5th.
WIth the big two of British backstroke, Harris and Ruckwood, absent from the 50 event, the third backstroker on the team Simon Burnett stepped up to claim the title, winning in a blanket finish from Coventry’s Kevin Barter. With no such absences from the women’s race, Britain’s top three filled the podium places, Sarah Price leading home Katy Sexton and Jo Fargus in her least favourite event.
British 100m breastroke races usually throw up a battle between messers Mew, Gibson and Whitehead, but this time it was Newcastle’s Chris Cook who trumped all of them to come home in first place. His time of 63.01 won’t set the world of breastroke alight, but he’ll be pleased to have gained three high profile scalps. No such upset in the women’s race as Heidi Earp came through to beat 50m runner up Rachel Genner into second place. Kate Haywood remains on course for a good showing in Manchester, but won’t have been pleased to have been beaten into 4th by 14 year old Grace Callaghan, who’s time of 1:11.53 was a half second improvement on her previous best.
As expected in domestic competition, the men’s 200 fly turned into the usual battle between Steve Parry and James Hickman. Hickman came out on top this time in 1:58.22, his second fastest of the season. No other swimmers broke the 2 minute barrier, with Parry over 3 seconds down in second. Both Hickman and Parry know they’ll have to be swimming 1.56 to get on terms with Australian Commonwealth record holder Justin Norris. British record holder Georgina Lee bounced back from defeat in the 100 fly to win the women’s event. She easily held off fellow team member Margaretha Pedder to take first place in 2.11.89.
The men’s 400m medley event threw up the biggest surprise of the session, as Portsmouth’s Chris Thompson touched out Robin Francis to win the gold, with his Northsea team mate Simon Militis well down in third and Commonwealth team member James Goddard fourth. Holly Fox was a comfortable winner in the women’s race.
The distance events also presented no major surprises. Rebecca Cooke was in good form, with a staggering solo swim of 16:22.45 in the 1500m, just 2s shy of her own British record, and an impressive swim at this stage of her training cycle. In the men’s 800, established names were thin on the ground, but Millfield’s Richard Bryant became English champion in a time of 8.30.41