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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 19:31 GMT
European Swimming Ch'ships day two
BBC Radio 5 Live's Bob Ballard
At the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven

A view of the pool in Eindhoven
A view of the pool in Eindhoven

What do they say about the best laid plans?

This week should have been about, though not exclusively, giving the good people of Eindhoven a chance to pay tribute and give thanks to their male swimming icon Pieter van den Hoogenband, who has served the country so well over the past decade.

A man who was brought up in this city and without whom and his father, this impressive venue would not have been built last year.

Before the swimming events began on Monday, Hoogie got struck down with the dreaded lurgy, put in a well below-par display in the men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay and when it came to the heats of the individual 200m free swam so poorly that he didn't even make it into the semi-finals.

Unthinkable and hugely disappointing for his many admirers.

My Dutch colleagues believe Pieter will not pull out of the rest of the meeting. He owes it to his public too much and will carry on, but, in what will be his last year of competition, it's agonising to see one of the all time-greats struggle like other mere mortals in the pool.


Not that the Dutch women have been affected by their number one man under-performing. In fact, if anything, they are sending out a statement to the Americans and Australians - catch us if you can.

After an immensely impressive display in the final of the women's 4x100 metres freestyle relay in which they smashed the World Record. Four out of the top five positions in the heats of the 100 freestyle were occupied by swimmers from the Netherlands.

Only two are allowed to progress into the semi-finals, Marleen Veldhuis, who anchored the relay team to victory on Tuesday showed every sign of breaking the world record in the semi-finals but went out more slowly this time and was well shy of Britta Steffen's mark.

But there is every chance that she's keeping a bit in reserve for the final.

It was another Dutch one-two in the final of the women's 50 metres butterfly with Chantal Groot taking gold and Inge Dekker the silver.

Milorad Cavic, of Serbia, showed that his European record in the semi-finals of the 50 metres butterfly was no fluke by bettering it by eleven one hundredths of a second in the final to win in 23.11 seconds.

Britain's number one Mark Foster will be taking note of that time.

Davies in tough Olympic warm-up
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day one
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB swimmers prepare for Eindhoven
07 Mar 08 |  Swimming


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