Swimming: Season's best for Hickman books him passage to Perth

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Last year's Olympic finalist, James Hickman, produced his best display of the season in Sheffield last night to book his place in the British team for next month's World Championships in Australia.

Hickman met the qualifying standard with more than two seconds to spare in the 200 metres butterfly final at the British Championships.

The 21-year-old world short course title holder had to chase a time for the championships, which begin in Perth in a month's time after food poisoning forced him to pull-out of the European Championships in Seville last August.

Hickman's time of 1min 58.33sec, just 0.18sec outside the British record he set in Atlanta last year when he finished seventh, would have been good enough for silver in Spain.

"That's a relief," said the Stockport Metros swimmer, who has recently parted from his long-time coach, Dave Calleja, after a series of rows. "My preparations have not been smooth. A lot of things have been going on, but it has made me mentally more focused. I now know that more than anything I want to go to Perth and win a medal.

"I was really pleased with my swim and it is a good time. It puts me into the top 10 in the world going to the championships."

Britain's two freestyle medallists from Atlanta both won their 400m heats. Paul Palmer, the Olympic silver medallist, won his heat in 4:00.68. Graeme Smith, the 1500m specialist, also qualified comfortably for the final.