SWIMNEWS ONLINE: July 1997 Magazine Articles

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Reports From Britain


Anita Lonsbrough

British Speedo Grand Prix Final

Susan Rolph cashed in even as Melanie Marshall erased her name from the record book at the Speedo British Grand Prix Super Final, held at Ponds Forge Sport Centre, Sheffield, May 30 and June 1.

Rolph and four other members of the British team for this year's European Championships were given permission to compete in this event, rather than travel with the team to the continent and compete at the Barcelona and Canet meets.

For Rolph, this event increased her bank balance by nearly 4,000 pounds (about $1,700 Canadian). Three of these cash awards were on offer to be shared by swimmers breaking British senior records during the four qualifying rounds and the final. But in the end it was only Rolph, who set new figures for the 50 butterfly at the Cardiff round, who was eligible for the money.

She increased her earnings by winning the 50 and 100 freestyles, and the 50 backstroke, while claiming second in the 50 butterfly and 50 breaststroke and third in the 100 butterfly.

Her victories were not as easy as she may have wished. In the freestyle, 15-year-old Melanie Marshall was close on her heels. The Boston swimmer, who competes under the South Lincs banner, was rewarded with a British junior record.

In the 50 free, Marshall's time of 26.56 was just 0.13 seconds behind Rolph, bettering the English junior record Rolph set three years ago.

Marshall led at the halfway stage of the 100 freestyle, but Rolph drew on her strength and experience to edge ahead to win in 56.74. Her young rival's time of 57.21 erased Rolph's three-year-old junior record. Marshall finished ahead of Karen Pickering, the Commonwealth champion and record holder.

Rolph's two wins gave her the overall title of sprint freestyle champion.

In the 50 backstroke, Rolph just managed to touch ahead of Portsmouth's Katy Sexton, 15. The margin of victory was just 0.06 seconds. Sexton's time of 30.47 was a British junior record.

Caroline Warren and Suzanne Flook set Welsh records. Warren, of Torfaen, won the 200 breaststroke in 2:37.88. Flook, from Reading, won the 200 butterfly in 2:16.93.

Karen Pickering, only third in the 100 freestyle, completed a freestyle distance hat trick, winning the 200, 400, and 800 distances. After her first victory in the 800, she admitted "I enjoyed that" but quickly added "I wouldn't like to have to swim it every time."

Caroline Foot, at 33 the oldest member of the British team, gained revenge over Susan Rolph, with whom she had tied at the European Trials in the 100 butterly. This time she came home to win with 1:02.82. In the 50 butterfly, Foot had the upper hand and her winning time of 28.55 clinched the butterfly category title for a record eighth time.

The Leeds duo of Andrew Clayton and Gavin Meadows were the other two excused from the continental meets, with all but Meadows joining the team for their eight day high altitude training camp at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees.

Clayton won the 100 and 200 freestyle to clinch the sprint title, while Meadows, who was third in the 100 and second in both the 200 and 400 freestyle, finished third in both sprint and distance freestyle categories.

Japan's Tatsuya Kinugasa, an Olympic B finalist now studying in Leeds, left his British rivals well back in winning the 400 I.M. in 4:24.24.

Scottish Championships

Alison Sheppard made a flying visit home to compete in the Scottish Championships, which were held in the new 50-m pool in Glasgow.

The three-time Olympian made her journey from Canada worthwhile by lowering her Scottish record in the 50 freestyle to 26.26, just 0.02 outside the qualifying time for the European Championships. She is not planning to enter the ASA Championships in July, where any available spots on the British team will be filled.

Sheppard was third in the 100 freestyle behind Karen Pickering and Claire Huddart.

The British team, fresh from its eight-day training at high altitude, dominated the first three days of the Championships. Few competed on the final day.

The 200 freestyle for both men and women drew together members of the squad that will swim the relay at the European Championships in Sevilla. Pickering's winning time of 2:02.31 (her season best) avenged her third-place finish at the trials behind Vicki Horner and Claire Huddart.

Andrew Clayton took the men's 200 freestyle in 1:51.62, followed closely by James Salter and Gavin Meadows.

James Hickman, the world short course champion, won both fly events. It was his win in the 200 that gave him the most pleasure, for he recorded his first unshaved sub-two-minute (1:59.59) swim.

Susan Rolph and Caroline Foot appear to be taking turns at the 100 butterfly. At the trials they were even (tied for first) with 1:02.46. Foot prevailed at the Grand Prix Final, but Rolph won here with a personal best of 1:02.32. Foot won the 50 fly in 28.39.

Good News For Rolph

In December 1996, Susan Rolph won both the 100 and 200 individual medley events at the short course European Championships, held in Rostock, Germany. Her time of 2:10.60 for the 200 equalled the standard time laid down for a European record.

LEN officials at the event ruled that the time set by Petra Schneider in 1982 had to be bettered to be a record. Despite several appeals, they were adamant that Rolph's time was not a record.

Sense prevailed in the end, and the LEN bureau ruled that Susan Rolph's time was a record.

Rolph becomes the first British woman to hold any kind of European record since Sarah Hardcastle in 1986.

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