Record falls as Jackson proves class

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Nicola Jackson confirmed her considerable potential when she broke the British record in the 200 metres freestyle here yesterday. The 17-year-old burst through the two-minute barrier for the first time to record 1min 59.32secs and qualify for the World Championship next month.

"I knew I had to go out hard and I felt really strong," she said afterwards. "In the past I have tied up in the last hundred metres but this time I felt good." Karen Pickering broke the record that had stood for 19 years last month when she was the first of her generation to break the two-minute barrier. She predicted then that it would not last long. Jackson is now ranked sixth in the world and the women's 4x200m freestyle team is now on course for a medal at the worlds.

Ian Edmond finally broke David Wilkie's Scottish record in the 200m breaststroke that has stood since the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Edmonds' magnificent time of 2:12.70 qualifies him for Japan and puts him fourth in the world.

Scottish sprinter Alison Sheppard added the British record of 27.05 in the 50m butterfly to the 50m freestyle record she already holds. "My fly has come together in the last month but my focus is still the free where I believe I can win a medal," she said.

Following last night's conclusion of the Scottish National Championships a team of 26 is expected to be announced today for next month's World Championships in Fukuoka. But the shock names missing from the list will be James Hickman and Olympic finalist Steve Parry.

In a tense 200m butterfly final, neither swimmer performed to their best and Hickman's winning time of 1:58.53 was over a second outside the qualifying time for Japan. The world short course record holder has his work cut out before he defends his Commonwealth title in Manchester next year.

On form this weekend was Sarah Price, who set her sixth British record of the summer in winning the 50m backstroke. Her time of 29.33 means she will compete in both the 50 and 100m backstroke in Japan.

Scotland's Olympic bronze medallist Graeme Smith has also returned to his best. Smith, who won bronze in the 1500m in Atlanta in 1996, broke his own British record in the 800m in Glasgow and will swim both distances in Japan. His time of 7:57.93 puts him in medal contention next month.

Despite these encouraging signs for Britain's medal hopes, not everyone was happy. The swimmers racing for places in the men's medley relay team found out yesterday that they were racing for nothing after it was announced that the team would only be selected from the Manchester trials in April, where none made it. By last night, they were easily under.

More crucial is the decision that awaits Mark Foster as to whether he will be selected for the 50m freestyle. Foster recorded the qualifying time in a time trial in Sheffield after his goggles came off in the final. If he is not selected, the fastest man in water may consider his alternatives and an almighty row is sure to follow.