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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Brave Baker claims silver
Zoe Baker
Baker added to the British medal total
The BBC's Bob Ballard reports on a day which saw Zoe Baker miss out on claiming an unlikely gold at the European Swimming Championships in Helsinki.

In 1997 Zoe Baker decided to forego her training regime at one of Europe's top pools, Ponds Forge in Sheffield, to follow her coach to New Zealand.

The move to the southern hemisphere didn't produce immediate results, she didn't qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in September '98, but the work Kim Swanwick has been doing with Baker has been paying off and in the last year has really begun to show results.

In Istanbul last July she broke the European Championship record for the 50 metres breastroke, clocking 31.43 in the semi-finals and picking up a silver in the final.

Fierce competition

A year later, and still not fully prepared because of the upcoming Olympic trials, the 24 year old has picked up another silver medal and given the fastest woman in the world in the event this year, a real run for her money.

Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor
Waterfield and Taylor flew the flag in diving

Agnes Kovacs from Hungary eventually won out, but Baker had been leading from the start until 40 metres. The British swimmer clinging on gamely to second place despite fierce competition.

Paul Palmer has had just the preparation he needed with the trials less than three weeks away and Sydney just over two months from now.

The City of Bath swimmer admitted to not being fully rested or tapered for his main two events, the 400 metres freestyle on Monday or the 200 event staged on Thursday and Friday, but he won bronze medals in both events.

Whilst it would seem like a step back from the gold and silver medals he collected last year, Palmer, now 25, has his eyes on the bigger prize in Sydney in what is sure to be his last Olympics, and as someone who has collected a medal at every senior competition since 1995, who would bet against him doing it again in September?

James Hickman is ready to turn the tables on Lars Frolander.

High profile

The Swede has had the Leeds' swimmers number over the 100 metres butterfly long course - including their last high profile meeting at the Europeans in Turkey last year.

But Hickman really believes he can beat Frolander this year, and his time of 53.19 in the semi-finals, the fastest he's done in 2000, shows thats he means what he says.

The Swede, however, was slightly quicker than the Briton in the semis, and will start Saturday's final as favourite.

Jaime King has been suffering with a groin strain, so her preparations for the 200 breastroke here have hardly been ideal, but she came close to making the final.

The Bath swimmer was just edged into ninth place in the semi-finals.

At last something for the hard-working diving team to celebrate.

Leon Taylor and Peter Waterfield collected bronze in the 10 metre platform synchro event.

Taylor has a good medal chance in the 10 metres platform solo discipline on Sunday.

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See also:

06 Jul 00 |  Other Sports
Fibbens drug appeal rejected
06 Jul 00 |  Other Sports
Palmer makes Euro progress
06 Jul 00 |  Other Sports
Best yet for brave Pickering
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