Foster and Rolph capture gold medals

Swimming
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The Independent Online
Mark Foster and Susan Rolph won Britain's first gold medals at the European Short-Course Championships in Rostock yesterday.

Foster powered to victory by almost two-tenths of a second as he grabbed gold in the 50 metres men's butterfly final. The world record holder had scraped into the final in sixth place with a time of 24.70sec, 0.28sec behind Germany's Fabian Hieronimus and Sweden's Jonas Akesson, who recorded the same time. Foster triumphed in the final in a time of 23.91sec, with Hieronimus second in 24.07 and Akesson third in 24.25.

Johanna Sjoberg of Sweden broke the European women's 100m butterfly record to win gold, clocking 58.80 to beat the previous mark of 59.35.

Rolph had a hectic day. Eight minutes after taking a silver medal behind Sandra Volker of Germany for the second day - Volker setting a European record of 24.67 to win the 50m freestyle - the British swimmer returned to take the 100m medley gold in 1min 01.94sec, just 0.04 ahead of Slovak Martina Moravcova.

The 18-year-old from Newcastle broke two British records in the space of half an hour during the heats earlier in the day. She set her bests in qualifying for the finals of the 100m medley and 50m freestyle events. They followed her tremendous start to the meeting on Friday night, when she won silver inthe 100m freestyle behind Volker.

Rolph's best performance in yesterday's heats came in the medley event, where she was more than a second faster than the other qualifiers for the final, clocking 1min 1.40sec, compared with Slovakia's Martina Moravcova with 1:02.52. The time also shattered her own mark, set a year ago, by 0.75sec and was 0.37sec outside the world record held by Louise Karlsson of Sweden. The swim came 30 minutes after she had lowered her own 50m freestyle mark by 0.18sec to 25.12sec, placing her third of the qualifiers, with the Olympic bronze medallist and European record holder Volker and Norway's Vibeke Johansen ahead.

Rolph was backed up by Sarah Collings, competing in her first major championships, who hung on to a bronze medal in the 800m freestyle with a personal best of 8:42.42, eight seconds behind Carla Geurts of the Netherlands. An hour later, the City of Bradford swimmer was back in the water winning a place in the final of the 400m freestyle. Simon Handley finished sixth in the 100m medley, which was won by Marcel Reinier of Holland, and Coventry's Jo Deakins was five seconds adrift of the Czech Republic's Katerina Pivonkova in the 200m backstroke.

Andrew Clayton of Leeds was another Briton in excellent form in the men's 200m freestyle qualifying. Despite suffering from the after-effects of a cold, he qualified for the final in second place in 1:48.26, 0.44sec behind Germany's Lars Conrad.

The world short-course silver medallist Ian Wilson posted the fastest qualifying time for the 1500m freestyle, winning his heat in 14 min 58.82sec.

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