Swimming: Foster leads challenge

Britain, resurgent under their Australian national performance director, Bill Sweetenham, provide the biggest squad of 55 at the European Short-Course Championships which begin today in Dublin, the largest national team the country has assembled.

The former world short-course champion, Mark Foster, who at the age of 33 finally won a major long-course medal with a silver in the 50 metres freestyle in Barcelona, as well as the freestylers Karen Pickering and Alison Sheppard, bring plenty of experience to the squad.

Katy Sexton, who won the 200 backstroke in Barcelona, and James Gibson, the world champion in the non-Olympic 50 breaststroke, will also figure prominently.

The double Olympic gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband returns to the international fray as a stepping-stone to the Olympics. The Dutch 100 and 200 freestyle champion had to settle for two silvers and a bronze at the World Championships, where he was suffering from the after-effects of food poisoning.

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