Swimming: Pickering's gold

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KAREN PICKERING became Britain's first women's world swimming champion when she took the 200 metres freestyle at the inaugural short-course championships in Palma de Majorca last night.

She cruised past Australia's Susan O'Neill over the closing 50 metres to win in 1min 56.25sec, breaking O'Neill's five-month-old Commonwealth record by 0.47sec.

Pickering, 21, who had demonstrated her fine form by taking the bronze medal in Thursday's 100m freestyle, swam a superbly judged final after O'Neill had led over the first 150 metres. The Ipswich swimmer then picked up her pace to slice 0.9sec off June Croft's 11- year-old British record. She also had the satisfaction of pushing China's Lu Bin into third place after Chinese girls had won two events earlier in the day, again in world record times.

Paul Palmer had previously collected Britain's third bronze of the championships in the 400 metres freestyle in 3:45.07, while Adam Ruckwood twice lowered his own British record on the way to finishing sixth in the 200 metres backstroke final in 1:56.91.