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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK

British swimming back to best

By Sharron Davies
BBC Sport

It was a very, very good swimming competition.

Many people are surprised at how well the British swimmers did, but I always knew they had it in them.

Of course I never would have predicted they would win so many medals.

There's always been the talent among the British swimmers, in fact a lot of them competed at the Sydney Olympics.

All they lacked was that mental toughness and self-belief that they could beat the world's best.

The fact that we have Australian Bill Sweetenham on board as the performance director of our swimming has helped a great deal.

He, in turn, has guided the coaches, who in turn have given the boys and girls the strength to take on the best.

You just have to look at the Australian influence in our diving and hockey to know that we can learn a lot from a country which is head and shoulders above us in a lot of sports.

As regards to individuals, you have to mention Ian Thorpe. He is an outstanding athlete and was unlucky not to get seven golds.

My favourite moments included the clean sweep of the medals by the England swimmers, first in the men's 100m breaststroke and then in the women's 200m backstroke.

There was Zoe Baker's world record and gold medal in the 50m breaststroke and Alison Sheppard's superb 50m freestyle success.

But my favourite was the 4x200m women's freestyle when Karen Pickering, who is my friend, beat the Australian girl on the final leg.

This, of course, is the Commonwealth Games and not the Olympics. Countries such as the United States, China and Russia weren't here.

But I really do think in Athens in two years' time, the British guys and girls have a fair chance of winning a good number of medals.


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