Sydney tide turns in favour of new girls

James Parrack says swimming's fresh faces need old heads this week

This is the week in British swimming when tension and emotion hit fever pitch, where tears will be shed in joy and despair in equal measure; and that's just by the spectators.

This is the week in British swimming when tension and emotion hit fever pitch, where tears will be shed in joy and despair in equal measure; and that's just by the spectators.

The Olympic trials run from Tuesday to Sunday in Sheffield, and it is the only swimming meet in the world where second place is as sweet as victory.

Three swimmers were preselected for Sydney from last year's European Championships; Paul Palmer in the 400m freestyle, Sue Rolph in the 100m freestyle, and Alison Sheppard in the 50m freestyle. Britain's other Olympic medal hopes in the pool this week include Mark Foster in the 50m freestyle; Graeme Smith, Olympic bronze-medallist from Atlanta, in the 1500 metres; and James Hickman and Steve Parry in the butterfly events. Qualification for this group should be a formality.

For the rest, it is about making the qualifying standards, and this is the only week they can do it. A maximum of two swimmers can be selected in each event, but both must make a tough qualifying time. To miss by 0.01sec is to miss the team. The Olympic Games is the Holy Grail of swimming, and casts a spell on the sport worldwide. Once every four years, you have just one swim to fulfil your wildest dreams, or to be faced with four more years of early mornings and soul-destroying training before the next opportunity.

The one event that is steaming up the goggles this week is the women's 200m backstroke. Three swimmers have been trading British records and international medals over the last two years and, as each of them knows, three into two simply won't go.

Portsmouth's Katy Sexton, 18, is the Commonwealth champion; Helen Don-Duncan, 19, is Manchester's world short-course silver-medallist; and the newcomer is 18-year-old Jo Fargus, from Bath, who took Sexton's British record at the European Championships in Helsinki earlier this month, when she finished fourth.

Fargus arrived at Bath late last year to train at the élite centre there under Ian Turner, who also coaches Paul Palmer. Her father is based in Hong Kong and she and her mother were living and training on Australia's Gold Coast when Turner arrived there for a training camp with the British team. One short conversation and one long training session later, Fargus opted to come back to the United Kingdom to train. Her progress since her return has been staggering, her technique faultless, but even as she celebrated her successes in Helsinki, she knew that the most important race of her life so far would be the one at the trials.

Another stellar junior making a big impression in the senior ranks is 17-year-old Rebecca Cooke, from Reading, who shot to international recognition during the short-course World Cup series in February this year.

She took home $8,000 for winning both the 400m and 800m freestyle categories, and closed to within 1.6sec of Sarah Hardcastle's 800m freestyle record. She demonstrated a healthy lack of respect for form by beating many of the top names in the event, including the reigning Olympic champion, the American Brooke Bennett. Successfully making the transition to long-course, she then finished fourth in Helsinki, and, like Fargus, said that the European Championships were just part of her build-up to the trials.

The good news is that time is on their side. But both will hope that the winning times are on their side this week if they are to fulfil their lifetime ambitions and swim in the Olympic Games.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone