British Olympic Team Announced
Aug 10, 2000 - Anita Lonsbrough
The forty one swimmers who leave for Australia later this month, will thanks to lottery funding be the best prepared ever to compete in an Olympic Games but just how many medals will they bring home?
Despite he British Olympic Association insisting on harder qualifying times than laid down by FINA, the team is much larger than expected.
Four years ago at the Atlanta swimmers doubled their medal tally of Barcelona with a silver by Paul Palmer in the 400m freestyle and a bronze in the 1500m by Graeme Smith.
What ever the total it will fall far short of the thirty two golds predicted by Deryk Snelling when he was appointed as the Director of Performance for British swimming.
Currently Britain has seven swimmers ranked in the top eight of the world with the USA still to hold their Olympic Trials. But not one of the seven is ranked in the first three.
They are Palmer, Sue Rolph, Alison Sheppard, Helen Don Duncan, Stephen Parry and James Hickman.
Palmer has experienced Olympic success but knows this time around it could be much more difficult. For in front of a partisan crowd the Australian swim team is going to be formidable.
Rolph the former European 100m freestyle champion, was pre selected and has not had to show her best. But the twenty two year has changed her options as to which event she has the best chance in. Last summer she was all set for the freestyle. But now fancies her chances are best in the 200m medley.
Sheppard whose new found form has shot her up the rankings knows she has to improve still further to match the form of Inge de Bruijn, Theresa Alshammar and Jenny Thompson but with her new weight training schedule she believes she is closing the gap.
In the 200m butterfly Britain should have not just one finalist but two in the form of Stephen Parry the British and Commonwealth record holder, and James Hickman a finalist four years ago.
Until March Hickman was the flag bearer for British hopes and aspirations in the event. But then the Parry the tall Liverpudlian, lowered his British mark. This could well have taken the pressure off Hickman who swam his best for two years at the Olympic Trials in Sheffield last month