From a British perspective, the 1997 FINA Swiming
World Cup will have been an important test. Swimmers from Great Britain
travelled to every competition on the circuit. Deryk Snelling, National
Performance Director for Great Britain since September, supports the World
Cup events wholeheartedly, saying, "I think it's a great opportunity
to race at the world level and to swim good races back to back. And as a
host country the exposure that this kind of meet provides to our junior
athletes is terrific. We've got 76 athletes here. I think it's the future,
and the interest is growing. It will give a better global concept to the
The usual suspects got things going with the men's
100 freestyle, and the race for the overall title in the men's Sprint Freestyle
category got ever tighter. Sion Brinn led the race for 75 metres ahead of
Michael Klim, but Klim came back hard to overtake a rapidly tiring Brinn,
touching in 48.86. On the second day of competition, Klim continued to dazzle;
his third win of the meet was the 200 freestyle (1:46.62), and he added
a fourth victory in the 100 butterfly, narrowly missing the world record
by 2/100 of a second. While he was disappointed, he said, "I'm looking
forward to racing Denis Pankratov in Germany, and I hope he's in good shape!"
Despite their having arrived in Scotland only two
days before the competition, the Chinese team had a decidedly successful
meet. A team of eight swimmers took over from the team that went to Finland
and Sweden, and they continued on to Gelsenkirchen. Chinese women won five
events in all, proving that the long flight from Asia had had little negative
effect. In fact, Glasgow saw the first world record of the 1997 series:
Xue Han of China swam a blistering 50 breaststroke to break her own world
record, clocking 30.88. "I wasn't expecting to swim that fast as I've
been training very hard," she said, smiling. Ge Zhao, the Chinese coach,
said that Han's goal had been to swim best times. "The record was her
own, so I'm not surprised," he said. "She is a very good short
course swimmer because she has a lot of power."
After serving a two-year suspension for doping,
China's Bin Lu took top honours in the 50 backstroke, affirming her return
to world class competition with her time of 28.74. Lu was disqualified in
the 100 backstroke, however, for kicking into the turn. Limin Liu made up
for that disappointment by winning the 100 butterfly (58.42) and the 200
butterfly; her time of 2:06.85 ranks her first in the world. She said the
time change had not been a big problem so far, adding, "I'm using this
competition mainly as a training opportunity, but I was aiming to swim faster
than I did in Beijing, so I'm satisfied."
Matthew Dunn continued his prowess in the men's
Individual Medley category, winning the 200 race in 1:59.02.
Adrian Radley, still leading in the Backstroke
category and number one in the world for the distance, picked up where he
left off and won the 100 backstroke in 53.15.
In keeping with World Cup tradition, swimmers from
the host federation also rose to the occasion in front of the home crowd,
putting in some good performances. James Hickman held off Australia's Scott
Goodman in the 200 butterfly and swam to a new British record of 1:55.35.
Susan Rolph, currently ranked number one in the world in the 200 individual
medley, won the event in 2:12.73 ahead of Canada's Joanne Malar (2:13.13).
Rolph added a second victory in the 100 individual medley (1:01.61). British
favourite Mark Foster lost out to Micheal Klim in the 50 butterfly, managing
a second place finish in 24.00 behind Klim's 23.92.
After her victory in the 800 freestyle the previous day, Natasha Bowron won the women's 400 freestyle in 4:08.97 to take the lead in the women's Distance Freestyle category. "This is my first national team experience so I'm really pleased with how I've done so far," she said. "I'm happy to be leading the category but I think I'll have to wait and see what happens in Germany."