SWIMNEWS ONLINE: February 1997 Magazine Articles

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Anita Lonsbrough

For Susan Rolph, the Atlanta Olympic Games were a bit of a disappointment, but she has emerged a much stronger person!

For some reason, and she does not know why, Susan is much happier within herself, which in turn has greatly helped her swimming. The European Short Course Championships in Rostock, at the beginning of December, was the highlight of her career to date.

The death of her grandmother on the evening of the final day of the championships dampened her celebrations and caused her to miss the British Winter Championships.

Susan, who is 18 and from Newcastle, opted not to go to Australia for three weeks training with the British elite squad. Feeling a little tired and determined to enjoy the Christmas festivities, she took a week out of training and spent the New Year in London with a friend.

Then it was back to training and the World Cup series. At first, Susan did not read the rules properly, but when she did and realized just how much money was available, Susan decided she would make a serious attempt at the individual medley category.

Having missed Hong Kong and Beijing, Susan knew that to be in the money she would have to win every 100 and 200 individual medley in which she competed. Also at the back of her mind was the world record for the 100 IM and the European record that had been so cruelly denied her in Rostock.

Susan, who is in her third year of study for a B. Tech. in Sport Science, opened the World Cup on home territory in Glasgow, Scotland, with a double victory in times of 1:01.61 and 2:12.73.

This continued in Gelsenkirchen, where her 200 IM time improved to 2:11.48. In Imperia two days later, it was a formality for the British swimmer. She now had the maximum 60 points from her three meets, which meant she was the joint runner-up with China's Yan Chen. There was no way they could catch Germany's Sabine Herbst, who had made her trip to Hong Kong worthwhile, becoming the new medley category champion and US$7500 richer. Yan and Susan shared the second and third prizes, with each pocketing US$2500.

Susan concluded her World Cup outing in Paris, where she maintained her winning streak. Her best swims were in Glasgow for the 100 IM and Gelsen-kirchen for the 200 IM.

The European record? Well, Susan is still optimistic, saying, "Don't worry, I'll get it," possibly in Gothenburg at the World Short Course Championships, where she will face the toughest opposition so far.

In between, it's back to the hard slog of training, where coach Ian Oliver insists "She's going to have to do more work on the backstroke whether she likes it or not."

Many would like to see her move up and try the 200 freestyle and 400 IM. But Susan, who competed in the 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly at the European Junior Championships, feels she is a sprinter. And so far, no one can argue with her.

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