Swimming: Meolans leaves Foster in his wake

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The Independent Online

Mark Foster and Alison Sheppard won silver and bronze medals on the third day of the world short course championships in Moscow yesterday.

Foster is the fastest man in water, but the world record holder and defending champion could not match the speed of the Argentinian Jose Meolans last night, settling for silver in 21.44sec some 0.31sec shy of his record.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I lost, because I am," Foster said. "I believe that if I could jump in again tomorrow I would win it. Normally I do nine strokes then breathe, do three more and turn, but before I knew it I had done 11 strokes and snatched a breath. Swimming the fly took a little bit out of me of me but that's not an excuse."

Alex Popov tied for third place with Alex Volinets of the Ukraine. Popov is one of the biggest sports stars in Russia and he provided the boost the organisers were hoping for.

Foster is not noted for his ability to swim more than one race in a day, and yesterday he had the heats and semi-final of the 50m butterfly before the 50m freestyle final. And it was typical of the luck of the man that after the heats he just sneaked into the semis in last place.

However, he atoned for his performance with a powerful display to qualify second into today's final, where he will line up against the Australian world record holder, Geoff Huegill.

There had been some discussion as to whether James Hickman would withdraw from the 50m fly semi if Foster was shut out. "There's no way I would withdraw to let Mark in," Hickman said. "What would be the point? He wouldn't have learned anything then, would he?"

Alison Sheppard continued her amazing run of swimming faster every time she races. In the 100m freestyle she finished sixth in a Scottish record time of 53.91sec, and followed that with a bronze medal in the 100m individual medley.

Swimming next to the European record holder in the event, Matina Moravcova, Sheppard battled through the breaststroke leg to put her in a medal position and at thefinish was even challenging for silver.

"I was faster than yesterday so it's another British record," Sheppard said. "That's six Scottish records out of six swims. I'm very pleased to get a medal because this is just my fun event. I was more nervous for the 100 free. It hurt at the end but I have to remember I'm a 50 swimmer. Everything is on course for the 50." The 50m starts today and the final is tomorrow.

Yana Klochkova won a second gold medal with a European record in the 400m freestyle. Her time of 4min 01.26sec puts her among the favourites to become the first woman to break four minutes for the event.

The daily world record was provided by the Swedish 4x100 medley relay team, who recorded 3:55.78 to take 1.68sec off the record held by the United States.

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