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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk