OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Gold prospects pool their resources: Swimming: A long-standing rivalry could help inspire Britain's top swimmers. Anne Porter on the competitors who can pull the master strokes

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The Independent Online
ACCORDING to Madeleine Campbell, the captain of the British women's swimming team, the Olympic pool, beautifully set in the Parc de Montjuic, 'gives the impression that it is smaller'. The team, though, will be under no illusions. The Games are definitely larger than life.

Campbell's comment reflects the fact that the pool is surrounded on three sides with seating for 11,000 spectators with the fourth dominated by a magnificent scoreboard - which is fully expected to record some sensational times once the action starts tomorrow.

For the sake of British morale, good times and great performances in the men's 100 metres breaststroke by Adrian Moorhouse and Nick Gillingham - who are drawn in the same heat tomorrow - would be the perfect start.

When people try to compare the competition between the best of British to the years of fierce rivarly between Seb Coe and Steve Ovett on the track this is quickly dispelled. 'We are more friendly and respect each other,' Moorhouse said. Gillingham believes they help each other and worry their rivals.

Moorhouse, the defending champion, admits that last year he was 'complacent' and let things slip away, but said that this year he was determined to come to Barcelona with a realistic chance of winning.

Gillingham, who has recorded the fastest time in the world this year over both the 100m and 200m distances, knows being No 1 does not give him the automatic right to win. But he will be 'looking for lifetime bests'.

Both Moorhouse and Gillingham have had what they consider to be the right preparation for the Games and are delighted with the village life which they think helps them relax. Being away for two weeks prior to the Games, has enabled them to get away from the external pressures.

However, Norbert Rosza, the world champion and record holder for the shorter distance, and Mike Barrowman, the world champion and record holder for the 200m, will start as favourites for the events.

Britain's manager, Paul Bush, believes his team have a chance of six medals, but Terry Denison, the chief coach, is less optimistic, saying 'we are hoping for three which seems to be our norm'. Both agree, however, that the team should have at least eight individual finalists.

Three medals could come from Gillingham and Moorhouse in the breaststroke events - two in the 100m and one in the 200m. Two others with good chances are Mark Foster, and Ian Wilson, who was fourth at the World Championships and a silver medallist at last year's European Championships.

Foster competes in the shortest event of all - the 50m freestyle. He took up the event after watching his club-mate, Mike Fibbens, win a bronze medal at the European Championships and so far this year he has not only broken Fibbens' British record but also captured the Commonwealth mark.

The two main contenders are the American duo of Matt Biondi, the defending Olympic champion, and Tom Jager, the world champion and record holder, with Alexander Popov, of the Unified Team, just ahead of Foster, who goes into the race as the fourth fastest.

Wilson faces the toughest test of all in the 1500m freestyle, although going into the race he has the fifth- fastest personal best time. However, with two 1500m in as many days, strength, preparation and determination play a big part.

With the disappearance of the East German girls, the rest - including the British - now believe they have a much better chance of doing well.

'In the past we knew that gold and silver would go to the East Germans with everyone else going for the bronze,' Suki Brownsdon, competing in her fourth Olympics, said: 'Now all three medals are up for grabs and it's up to us to get up there with them'.

Although the United States are expected to top the medal charts, China and Hungary - with much smaller teams - are expected to gather gold.

Hungary could well take home seven - two each to Rosza and Tamas Darnyi and three to Krisztina Egerszegi. Darnyi and Egerszegi will defend the titles they won four years ago. Darnyi is the Olympic and world champion and record holder over both the 200m and 400m medley events while his young team-mate has her sights set on adding the 100m backstroke and 400m medley to the 200m backstroke she won in Seoul.

For China, Lin Li and Hong Qian will be hoping to carry on from where they left off at the World Championships in Perth, Western Australia, in January 1991. Lin won both the 200m and 400m medley while Hong won gold in the 100m butterfly.

BRITISH SWIMMING TEAM

MEN: 50m freestyle: M Fibbens (Barnet Copthall), M Foster (Barnet Copthall). 100m freestyle: Fibbens, P Howe (City of Birmingham). 200m freestyle: P Palmer (City of Lincoln), Howe. 400m freestyle: Palmer, S Akers (City of Leeds). 1500m freestyle: I Wilson (City of Sunderland), Akers. 100m backstroke: M Harris (Barnet Copthall), A Ruckwood (City of Birmingham). 200m backstroke: M O'Connor (City of Leeds), Ruckwood. 100m butterfly: R Leishman (City of Leeds), S Wainwright (City of Lincoln). 200m butterfly: Wainwright. 100m breaststroke: A Moorhouse (City of Leeds), N Gillingham (City of Birmingham). 200m breaststroke: Gillingham, J Hender (City of Leeds). 200m individual medley: J Davey (Rochdale Aquabears), A Rolley (Portsmouth Northsea). 400m individual medley: Rolley. 4 x 100 metres freestyle: Fibbens, Howe, Foster, R Lee (Nova Centurians). 4 x 200 metres freestyle: Howe, Palmer, Akers, S Mellor (Satellite). 4 x 100 metres medley: team to be selected later.

WOMEN: 50m freestyle: K Pickering (Ipswich), A Sheppard (Milngavie and Bearsden). 100m freestyle: Pickering, Sheppard. 200m freestyle: Pickering. 400m freestyle: S Foggo (City of Newcastle), E Arnold (Nova Centurian). 800m freestyle: Arnold, Foggo. 100m backstroke: K Read (Barnet Copthall), J Deakins (Gloucester City). 200m backstroke: Read, Deakins. 100m butterfly: M Campbell (Portsmouth Northsea), S Purvis (Stockton Aquatic). 200m butterfly: Purvis and H Slatter (Warrington Warriors). 100m breaststroke: J King (Thamesdown), S Brownsdon (City of Coventry). 200m breaststroke: Brownsdon, King. 200m individual medley: S Davies (Portsmouth Northsea), Slatter. 400m individual medley: Davies, Slatter. 4 x 100 metres freestyle: no selection. 4 x 100 metres medley: team to be selected later.

(Photograph omitted)

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