Swimming: Foster double leads British gold rush

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The Independent Online

Mark Foster won his second title of the European Short-Course Championships in Dublin yesterday with a narrow win in the 50 metres butterfly as Britain ended on a high despite the virus afflicting the squad.

The 33-year-old University of Bath swimmer (right), who won the 50m freestyle on Thursday, took gold in 23.22 seconds, almost half a second slower than his own three-year-old European record but ahead of Croatia's Alexei Puninski by 0.18sec with Andrii Serdinov of Ukraine took bronze.

On a satisfying final day, Ian Edmond broke a European record and Melanie Marshall was also victorious. Edmond swept to a runaway victory in the men's 200m breaststroke, then Marshall's blistering finish gave her gold in the women's 200m freestyle.

The world champion Katy Sexton, one of several Britons laid low by illness, flew home early. Sexton, who has been suffering from a viral illness, did not make the finals of the 50m and 100m backstroke and pulled out of yesterday's 200m backstroke, the event in which she won the world long-course title in Barcelona in July.

Eleven of the British team were feeling ill, most with sinusitis, on Friday, the national performance director Bill Sweetenham said. Four were feeling better by Saturday, but three of the squad - the 400m individual medley silver medallist Robin Francis, plus Alan Bircher and Karen Legg - went home. .

The British squad, who have taken no break in training for these championships as they prepare for the Olympics, made a successful showing despite their problems. Germany edged them out at the top of the medals table with seven golds, six silvers and eight bronzes against Britain's 7-6-1 tally.

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