Swimming: Sweetenham agrees to carry on British revolution

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The Independent Online

Bill Sweetenham, the national performance director, has agreed a new contract with British Swimming which will see him lead Britain's athletes to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The agreement has been welcomed by the British Swimming chief executive, David Sparkes. "I'm delighted Bill has agreed to remain with British Swimming," he said. "He's made considerable progress over the past four years with us. We all appreciate there is a lot to be done but I cannot think of anyone better in the world to help British Swimming achieve success in 2008.

"I'm sure Bill will continue to strengthen the team, not only the swimmers but the coaches and support staff as well," Sparkes added.

Sweetenham, 54, joined British Swimming in November 2000 from Australian Swimming on a four-year contract lasting until the Athens Olympics.

Karen Pickering vowed to give her "heart and soul" as she looked forward to what is likely to be her final Olympics after securing a freestyle double at the ASA National Long-Course Championships in Manchester.

She won the 200 metres and 100m titles at the championships. But in Athens she will compete in only the freestyle relay events, the first time in her career that she has not appeared in individual events at an international meet.

However, she admits it may prove to be a blessing, saying: "To be honest, I think it is good for me just to have a couple of races to concentrate on. I am 32 now. I find recovery harder and harder and the way that the freestyle races work at a major championships is very hard. I am just going to give absolutely everything I have got, my heart and my soul, for those races."

Pickering secured the double in the absence of Melanie Marshall, ranked first in the world over the longer distance. Marshall instead chose to compete in the 50m and 200m backstroke, finishing runner-up on both occasions to Katy Sexton.