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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 March 2008, 21:00 GMT
European Swimming Ch'ships day five
BBC Radio 5 Live's Bob Ballard
At the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven

British swimmer David Davies
Davies made a fast start before slipping back to second place

In the middle of 2007, David Davies made the decision to up sticks and move from the programme he'd been in with coach Dave Haller for all his swimming life at Cardiff to try something new.

He was getting stale - same surroundings, same training methods, and whilst paying tribute to Haller for his enormous contribution, the 22-year-old (as he was then) Welshman needed a new challenge to help him towards Beijing.

And if winning his first major Open Water event in South Africa and following it soon afterwards with a silver in the European Championships is any indication - he's done the right thing.

I was among many who thought it was a risky move that close to the Olympics, but Davies is a man who knows his own mind and, refreshed, he was in sparkling form in Eindhoven with a decent, not fully-rested, time of 14 minutes 54.28 seconds.

What's more, he beat the world champion Mateusz Sawrymowicz into third place by over four seconds. How psychological could that be in a few months' time in China?

We could have witnessed the Olympic final dress rehearsal here, with Australian Grant Hackett and Larsen Jensen of the USA to come into the mix.

The performance today was all the more remarkable as Davies has been on antibiotics for much of the past week after a recurrence of a foot infection which flared up after he watched Wales win the Six Nations Grand Slam in Cardiff.

French swimmer Alain Bernard
Frenchman Alain Bernard has been the star of the championships so far

I spoke to him at the time and he kept the problem a secret. This time, thankfully, it was not as serious as it had been before when an operation was required, but after much deliberation about pulling out of the championships he duly arrived on Wednesday.

Davies will have a go at the 400m freestyle at the trials, and hopefully he and David Carry can have a crack at lowering the British record.

After looking impressive and very controlled in the heats of the 200m breaststroke, Kirsty Balfour's performances tailed off in her next two swims and the defending European champion could only finish in fifth, almost four seconds outside of her best.

The Edinburgh swimmer is concentrating on her preparations for the trials in Sheffield which begin in nine days time, and posting a qualifying time for Beijing in the 100 metres breaststroke, which she hasn't yet got.

What can I say about Alain Bernard? Who? Keep up will you, he's the man who has set not one, but two world records in 24 hours in the 100m freestyle. Not content with recording a best ever time of 47.60, he went a tenth of a second better in the final.

The 24-year-old Frenchman will have raised plenty of eyebrows in South Africa, Australia and the US, whose swimmers will feel they have a great chance to win gold in the 100 free in China. At the moment, they don't!

Biggest upset of the week, not Pieter van den Hoogenband's stomach, but Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem winning the women's 100m butterfly at the tender age of 14 years 218 days. Now, does that make you feel old?



SEE ALSO
Davies wins European silver medal
22 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB women break record for silver
21 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Davies in tough Olympic warm-up
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day two
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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