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British Olympic Trials - Day 4

Jul 29, 2000  - Anita Lonsbrough

As Stephen Parry and James Hickman walked out for the final of the 200m butterfly at the Olympic Trials, it was like gladiators entering the arena.

In twenty three year old Parry the British and Commonwealth record holder, and Hickman one year older from Leeds, Britain has two world class swimmers who will be chasing the medals in Sydney.

So close to Sydney neither wanted to be beaten this close. Hickman set the pace with Parry on his shoulder. The gap was never more than 0.31sec and as the race progressed the gap came down.

The race was decided on the final length where Parry's strength told and he inched ahead to take victory. The two had mixed feelings about their time. Parry who won in 1min 57.13 claimed he was "physically ready for a 1-56 but mentally doing 1-58 so a 1-57 was good. But these times won't scare anyone"

Hickman claimed he was "happy as I've qualified for Sydney and done my best for two years adding "It's a weight off my mind. It's been a tough two days". This referred to having to swim heats, semi-final and final of both the butterfly and 200m medley in two days.

He turned runner up in the butterfly into victory in the medley. Having led for the first half he was caught and passed on the breast-stroke the weakest of his four strokes. But down the final freestyle leg Hickman drew on all his strength and determination to win in 2min 03.85 and secured a second swim in Sydney in 2min 03.85.

The two Karen's Legg and Pickering booked their Sydney place but they failed to produced a sub 2min swim. Only one swimmer has ever dipped under the 2min mark and that was June Croft back in 1982.

Legg's main adversary for the whole race was the former world short course champion Pickering who at twenty eight is six years the senior. Pickering from Ipswich, tried to make a bid for victory but Legg counter attacked her every move to win her first national title in 2min 00.45sec.

Pickering had to hold off another challenger to hand on to the runners up spot. This came from the talented sixteen year old Nicola Jackson. Earlier in the week Jackson from Richmond, North Yorkshire, finished third in the 100m butterfly and third it was again. But this time she will get her call up for Sydney in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

Katy Sexton the Commonwealth champion and former British record holder, comfortably won the first semi of the 200m backstroke in a very relaxed 2:14.09. The eighteen year old from Portsmouth then sat and watched the next semi where the British record holder, Joanna Fargus, and Helen Don Duncan another former record holder, raced each other hard.

Don Duncan the Commnwealth bronze medallist, emerged the winner to recapture the British record with a 2:11.73 swim with Fargus coming home 0.82sec behind but also inside her old mark.