Britain yet to find gold

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The Independent Online

A buoyant Swedish team set a third world record and there was an unprecedented three-way tie for gold at the European short-course championships in Valencia yesterday. The British team, however, is still waiting for its first gold after adding four bronze medals on the penultimate day to bring their overall total to five silver and six bronze.

A buoyant Swedish team set a third world record and there was an unprecedented three-way tie for gold at the European short-course championships in Valencia yesterday. The British team, however, is still waiting for its first gold after adding four bronze medals on the penultimate day to bring their overall total to five silver and six bronze.

The new performance director, Bill Sweetenham, had asked the team to "feel the pain'' of missing out on gold here and to swim tougher on the final day of the championships today.

History was made twice as the dominant Swedes set a world record in the 4 x 50m medley relay, slicing over a second off their old mark, taking gold in 1min 48.31sec. The swim dragged Britain to a bronze medal in a national record time of 1:51.20, thanks to a storming anchor leg by Scotland's Alison Sheppard.

And for the first time in international competition three swimmers won gold medals in the 50m breaststroke after Italy's Dominico Fioravanti, Germany's Mark Warnecke and Daniel Malek, from the Czech Republic, all stopped the clock in 27.11sec in a three-way tie.

Darren Mew was fourth and equalled the British record of 27.32sec in the process. It has been a good week for Mew who won bronze in the 100m breaststroke on Friday and broke Adrian Moorhouse's 13-year-old British record on the way.

It was another triumph for the Italian Olympic champion Massimiliano Rosolino who won his third gold of the weekend in the 1500m freestyle. Swimming from lane one, Rosolino broke the European record held by the great Russian distance swimmer Vladimir Salinikov which has stood since 1982. The new record stands at 14:36.93.

It is Rosolino's second European record of the championships and will have done nothing to quell the controversy that surrounded him and four team-mates on their return from Sydney, after an Italian newspaper named them in a suspected cover up of positive drug tests by Italy's Olympic committee.

British hopes for gold here rested with James Hickman and Steve Parry in the 200m butterfly. But the man who broke the heart of Sweden's Lars Frolander in the 100m race yesterday, the German Thomas Rupprath, took his second gold in the longer race. Parry won bronze and the world record holder, Hickman, could only finish fourth.

Sue Rolph was back to her best in the 100m individual medley as she battled to bronze, and it was bronze too for the 17-year-old Rebecca Cooke in the 400m freestyle. She won silver in the 800m yesterday and an exhausted Cooke showed fighting spirit to hold on to her third place.

The highlight of today will be the women's 400m individual medley as Yana Klochkova swims for the largest cash pay-out in swimming history. If she wins today she will complete a super series that includes the Olympic Games and European long-course championships and she will win £35,000, but this will double to £70,000 with the bonus she will receive for setting the world record in Sydney.

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