There may have been complaints about the Coventry pool, but the Commonwealth team continued to dominate the finals on the last day of the championships. Some surprises along the way but on the whole a satisfactory three days for those swimmers who are Manchester bound.
The Men’s 200m freestyle final was a strange field with backstroker Simon Burnett holding off 800m winner Richard Bryant for the title. Butterflyer James Hickman finished in fourth, in what will have been a useful race workout, behind Paul Webster of Nova. The women’s final had a more familiar look about it and a familiar face in first place. Nicola Jackson swam an outstanding time of 2:00.08 to really prove she is back at her best and win with a clear margin of almost a second from Karen Legg. Janine Belton was third with distance specialist Rebecca Cooke showing good speed in 4th.
The 50 fly went exactly according to the script with Mark Foster easily keeping his domestic rivals at bay as he took the title. His time of 24.67 enough to hold off Seth Chappells in second. Ros Brett came good in the women’s final to win her first title of the weekend. Wales’ Carla Hancocks and Crawley’s Alexa White tied for second.
It will come as no shock to learn that Sarah Price again outshone her English rivals to add yet another 100m backstroke title to her growing haul. It was close though, with Katy Sexton showing good form to finish only 0.5s adrift of Price. 13 year old Stephanie Proud continued to impress, finishing in third place. In the men’s race, Kevin Barter took full advantage of the absence of all of the Commonwealth team, to win his first English title in 58.32. Nova’s Nathan Oxford finished second, with Simon Cowling continuing a good meet for Millfield in third.
Following the shocks in the 100 breastroke, Adam Whitehead’s victory in the 200m was not the shoe-in that might have been expected. However he held his nerve well to win in a close finish with medley specialist Robin Francis who had to be content with second. The women’s final was billed as a shoot out between Heidi Earp and Kate Haywood. Earp cam out on top convincingly, beating her younger opponent by almost 4 seconds.
James Goddard made up for any disappointment in the 400 medley by winning the 200m event, although he was helped by the disqualification of 400IM winner Chris Thompson for an infringement on the butterfly to backstroke turn. With Robin Francis concentrating on the breastroke Goddard won with a clear margin of over 4s from Coventry’s Neil Ashcroft. Holly Fox made it a medley double as she won the women’s race.
The distance races again went to form, as Leed’s Stuart Trees won the 1500 in 15.46.34 and Rebecca Cooke headed a Glasgow clean sweep in the 800, with team mates Holly and Bryony Fox in second and third places respectively.