World Swimming Championships: Palmer wins bronze but loses battle of big feet

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The Independent Online
Britain won their first individual medal in the World Swimming Championships, but, as Ian Gordon reports from Perth, Paul Palmer had to be content with third place behind two outstanding Australian teenagers.

Paul Palmer powered his way on to the World Championships victory podium for the second time to claim Britain's first individual medal in Perth, Western Australia, yesterday.

Palmer broke his own national 400 metres freestyle record to make it double bronze this week following his medal-winning effort in the freestyle relay. "I had to spit and grit for that," said the Olympic silver medallist after seeing 15-year-old Ian Thorpe win the battle of Australia's teenagers to take the title.

Palmer, determined to atone for his opening day 200m disappointment when he finished seventh, sliced just over 0.1sec off the record he set in Sheffield in August 1993.

"The last couple of days have been tough," the University of Bath swimmer said. "I have done all my training for the 400m, but I still expected to do better in the 200. It was a bit of a blow.'' The time of 3min 48.02sec took him up to 13th on the all-time lists as Thorpe, the Sydney schoolboy whose shoe size of 16 is more than his age, out-kicked his 17-year-old team-mate Grant Hackett to win.

Palmer is confident his new training regime will enable him to take on Thorpe and Hackett in Kuala Lumpur come September after they set the fourth and fifth fastest times in history.

Britain's 4x100m freestyle relay squad of Gavin Meadows, Michael Fibbens, James Salter and Nick Shackell came seventh (3:21.45) in a race won by the United States.

Linda Hindmarsh, of Leeds, lowered her personal best for the 200m breaststroke twice yesterday to finish fifth in the consolation final. The 17-year- old, who took nearly a quarter-of-a-second off the time in the heats, carved well over another three 10ths off it in the B final with a time of 2:30.90. Gold went to the 16-year-old Hungarian Agnes Kovacs, who set a new championship best of 2:25.45 on a night for teenagers, though it was older Americans who won the two other titles.

Jenny Thompson, 24, added the 100m butterfly title to the 100m freestyle gold, breaking the championship record she had set in the heats when winning in 58.46sec.