Mark Foster suffered a major setback last night by missing the qualifying time for the World Championships by 0.02 seconds in the 50 metres freestyle here last night, which he won in 22.43. The world-ranked No 2 in the event, Foster may miss the chance to become a double world medallist as he has only technically qualified for the 50 metres butterfly in Japan next month.
Foster set world records in the short-course pool earlier this year in both the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly. He added a British record of 22.13 sec in the 50m freestyle long course in a hastily arranged time trial in Sheffield last month, but that swim, which puts him second in the world, may not count for selection. In the final of the event, Foster's goggles snapped just before the race and he borrowed a pair from a team-mate. But when he dived in he experienced a shock more familiar to novice and leisure swimmers: his goggles came off. It was in that time trial that Foster recorded a stunning 22.13 to make him one of the medal favourites in Japan.
Foster can only hope that the performance director, Bill Sweetenham, takes the view that as the faster time was recorded in a designated qualification meet, albeit in a time trial, and with potential medal winners in such short supply, it would be prudent to include Foster in both the freestyle and butterfly sprints. The team will be announced tomorrow.
The Scottish National Championships in Glasgow this weekend are the final selection trials for the World Championships. Twenty-two swimmers have so far been selected, but the 200m butterfly swimmers James Hickman and Steve Parry are not among them. Hickman, 25, the world short-course record holder, fell a long way short of the time in the 100m butterfly, winning in 54.14, and is in a sudden-death race in tomorrow's 200m, with the Olympic finalist Parry.
The Commonwealth champion, Katie Sexton, was on a mission for the qualifying time in a thrilling 200m backstroke final and was under British record pace with 50 metres to go. But Jo Fargus, of Bath, touched first to lower her British record to 2min 11.04sec.