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Steffen Cancels Winter S/C Race Season

Nov 5, 2009  - Craig Lord

Britta Steffen, double Olympic and world champion sprint freestyler, has called off her winter short-course season and will not race at a home world cup event in Berlin next week nor the Duel in England in December between the USA and a European Select team from Britain, Germany and Italy.

German reports talk of Steffen's form as being "in the cellar" after a training tour in Australia that "did not go to plan". The 25-year-old said she was unprepared to race and be challenged while she felt at a disadvantage to those who were better prepared: "I have overly high expectations of myself. I am double Olympic and world champion and I don't want to do this [race while weak]."

Steffen came to her decision after talking to her personal coach in Berlin, Norbert Warnatzsch, and head Germany coach Dirk Lange, who told Berlin reporters: "It's no good to us if she doesn't swim well."

Steffen had planned to train alongside Cate Campbell, the 17-year-old Aussie sprint ace, but that had not worked out and she ended up training alone while in Australia. Warnatsch said that her main task had been to watch how Australians trained ... and that had not been possible.

Steffen would have been a big bonus to the European team facing a powerful American squad at Manchester in December. Europe's next best is Fran Halsall, of Britain, silver medallist behind Steffen over 100m free at the world championships in Rome in July. Europe has yet to announce its team for the Duel. 

According to national selection criteria, British swimmers selected to race in Manchester will not compete at the European s/c championships in Istanbul the week before the duel on December 18-19.