Swimming: Brave Price powers her way to gold

Click to follow
The Independent Online

In the most courageous swim of her career, Sarah Price won Britain's second gold medal at the European short-course championships in Antwerp last night. Another successful night for Britain saw the team add one gold, two silvers and two bronze to bring their total medal haul to 13.

Price had come here to win back the 200m backstroke world record that she lost last month and was a staggering 1.23sec under world record pace at the half-way mark. Piling on the pressure, the 22-year-old was 1.50sec under her target with 50m to go. But her early pace cost her the record as she visibly fell apart in the closing stages. An exhausted Price finished in 2.04.59, just over a second outside her goal.

"I'm ecstatic to win gold even though that was so painful," she said. "I know I went out too fast, but I'm still learning how to swim and can't wait for the new year."

Mark Foster atoned for his débâcle in the 50m freestyle, when he could only finish fourth, by taking silver in the 50m butterfly. The fastest man in water was pipped to the gold in the final stroke by Sweden's Olympic champion Lars Frolander.

Ian Edmond fought courageously to win silver in the 200m breaststroke. In a close-fought race, the 23-year-old Scot was denied gold by 0.24sec, and is now just 0.12sec shy of Nick Gillingham's British record set in 1993.

It was Edmond's first senior international medal and helped erase the bitter memory of the world championships last July, where he was disqualified in the semi-final for a faulty leg kick coming out of the turn. "I'm disappointed to come second," he said. "I thought I could have won."

To cap a terrific day for the Scots, with a performance of great personal triumph, Gregor Tait, Edmond's Edinburgh team-mate, broke his own British record in a tough final of the 100m backstroke to record 52.90 for bronze.

Heidi Earp came from a long way down at the half-way mark to win bronze in the 100m breaststroke, her strength in the final 25 metres carrying her to the rostrum after a slow start.

After a quiet weekend, the multiple Olympic champion Pieter Van den Hoogenband burst into life in the 200m freestyle. Chasing the oldest men's European record in the books, the Dutchman stormed to the finish to smash Georgio Lamberti's 11-year-old record, recording an awesome 1.42.46.

Robin Francis won DM3000 (£960) as the outstanding newcomer of the meet to underline what has been a highly successful weekend both for the championships, with five world and 13 European records, and the British team. Without sending a full-strength squad, their two gold, six silver and five bronze medals – with 15 British records – continues the resurgence of British swimming under the guidance of their Australian performance director, Bill Sweetenham.

Typically though, he was not satisfied. "I'm happy with the records and with where we're heading, but we have to get a lot tougher the final 10 metres of races, where we are still too soft," he said. "And I'm anxious that we have lost our way with the club system. There are just not enough Robin Francises coming through the system."

Comments