Commonwealth Games / Swimming: Birmingham duo disrupt Australia's flow: Swimming domination broken

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The Independent Online
TWO swimmers born in Birmingham finally gave the rest of the Commonwealth a look in at Saanich Pool in Victoria on Sunday. In the face of Australian domination, England's Adam Ruckwood took the 200 metres backstroke title, while Stephen Clarke, now a Canadian citizen, won his adopted country's first gold medal when he swept to victory in the 100m freestyle.

To cap a good night for the England team, who won only one gold in Auckland four years ago, the women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay squad beat the Australians while Sarah Hardcastle, in the 400m freestyle, and Kathy Osher, with a British record in the 100m backstroke, both won bronze medals.

The Australians had won 10 successive titles since Karen Pickering's 100m freestyle victory in the opening race of the programme before Clarke broke the sequence. Within an hour, Ruckwood had won England's second gold medal. He clocked a British and Games record of 2min 00.79sec to beat Kevin Draxinger, of Canada.

The 19-year-old Ruckwood is from the same stable which produced Nick Gillingham, who he trains with. He is really a name for the future. The time he swam here should be good enough to earn him a place in the World Championship in Rome next month.

While Ruckwood was giving a press conference, eyes kept diverting to the television in the corner, which was showing the women's freestyle relay, where a shock was unfolding. Pickering anchored England to victory in 3min 46.23sec, swimming an outstanding 55.43sec and making up more than a second in the last 50 metres on Karen van Wirdum.

The other members of the team were Susan Rolph, Alex Bennett and Claire Huddart. The time was a British and Games record.

(Photograph omitted)

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