Foster free to mount assault on two fronts

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Common sense has prevailed among the selectors picking the squad for next month's World Championships in Japan.

When the team of 27 was announced on Monday, Mark Foster was not selected for the 50 metres freestyle, an event in which he is ranked second in the world. But the performance director, Bill Sweetenham, has diffused the ensuing row.

"Twenty-seven swimmers have made it through a tough selection policy,'' he said. "Of those already on the team, anyone can swim a second event providing that in that event, they are ranked in the world's top 16.'' As Foster is already selected for the 50m butterfly, he can now also compete in his best event, the 50m freestyle.

"I am delighted they have found a way to put the best swimmers in their best events," Foster said. "It's right to set tough qualifying times and it has definitely raised the standard across all events."

The row blew up on Monday because the selection committee decided to stick to the letter of the law of the tough selection criteria. To qualify for Japan, swimmers had to better the 12th fastest time in the world in the final of any of four designated competitions.

The change also means that Karen Pickering will swim the 200m freestyle, in which she is ranked fifth in the world.

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