Pickering to miss Olympic camp as coach is excluded

Swimming

It would not be a proper British swimming team at an Olympic Games if there was not some controversy, and the one going to Atlanta conforms to type. After the trials in Sheffield come the tribulations, and they are focused, as they were four years ago, on the coaches.

Cutbacks in accreditation mean the head coach, Bill Furniss, will have only four men under him working directly with the swimmers which, for a team of 28, means the politest description of their workload is onerous. Noticeable by his absence is Karen Pickering's mentor, Dave Chapman.

In Barcelona, Pickering, 24, was less than pleased when Chapman was excluded from the official list of coaches but at least his accreditation allowed him access to the poolside. In Atlanta, unless the British Olympic Association can negotiate more places, he will not even be allowed that privilege.

"I'm not happy, but what can you do?" Pickering, who will compete in the 100 metres and 200m freestyle, said. "At the moment, each coach will be looking after seven swimmers, which is too many. We'll just have to hope the BOA come through."

What Pickering, world short-course champion over 200m in 1993, has done is remove herself, subject to changes, from the training camp in Tallahassee, Florida, from April 29 to May 14. This is in direct contravention of Furniss's hopes.

Chapman, Pickering's coach since 1987, said: "I don't think I will be able to go to Tallahassee, and we don't see the point of her being there and me being here."

Furniss said there would be no coercion but he clearly anticipated all the team would be in Florida. "There is an expectation the swimmers will go to the camp," he said. "The climate in Atlanta is going to be extreme and we need to know how they will cope with the conditions. If there is a reasonable request to miss the camp, however, we will not exclude them from the team.

"The accreditation situation is dire. We have had extensive talks with the BOA about extra places for staff and we will pursue that vigorously."

The one surprise name in the squad is 16-year-old Janine Belton, who is included in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay even though she only finished fifth in the 200m freestyle at the trials. She is cover for Sarah Hardcastle, who faced competing in the 800m freestyle final and the heats of the relay on the same day.

OLYMPIC RELAY TEAMS: MEN 4x100m freestyle: N Shackell (Millfield), M Stevens (Satellite), A Rapley (Sheffield), M Fibbens (Hatfield); 4x200m freestyle: P Palmer (Lincoln), A Clayton (Leeds), J Salter (Birmingham), Stevens. 4x100m medley: to be advised. WOMEN 4x100m freestyle: K Pickering (Ipswich), S Rolph (Newcastle), A Sheppard (Milngavie Bearsden), C Wilmott (Barnet Copthall). 4x200m freestyle: Pickering, S Hardcastle (Bracknell), C Huddart (Leeds), V Horner (Derwentside), J Belton (Bradford). 4x100m medley: to be advised.

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