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SWIMMING: Bird bid falls short

PUBLISHED: 12:01 23 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:10 06 July 2010

LOWESTOFT and Oulton Broad Swimming Club stars shone at the recent World Championship trials.

Local swimming star Stephanie Bird (pictured 2nd from front), who became European Champion at 100m backstroke five months ago, was left extremely disappointed having missed selection to the IPC Swimming World Championships last weekend by a fingernails length.

LOWESTOFT and Oulton Broad Swimming Club stars shone at the recent World Championship trials.

Local swimming star Stephanie Bird (pictured 2nd from front), who became European Champion at 100m backstroke five months ago, was left extremely disappointed having missed selection to the IPC Swimming World Championships last weekend by a fingernails length.

Bird, who is well know for her superior performances when the pressure is on; swam the final of the Women's 200m freestyle 5 seconds quicker than her previous lifetime best. Despite the amazing performance, it was just 0.09 seconds outside the World Championship Qualifying Time.

Joining Steph under the Lowestoft & Oulton Broad name were team mates Mark Chard (pictured front) and Jessica-Jane Applegate (pictured 3rd from front) with Coach Simon Pickering (pictured back) at the British International Disability Championships.

Both Mark and Jess were one of the youngest competitors at the championships and despite competing against swimmers from many different countries including Israel, Brazil, New Zealand along with Britain's elite, they did remarkably well.

Mark, who has little experience and never raced in a long course pool showed how he was not in the slightest intimidated by swimming a corker in his first event, the 100m back. His heat time not only secured him a place in the finals but it was so fast, it was the A Final of a Multi disability event! With two Paralympians and a wealth of internationals in the lanes next to him, Mark did incredibly well finish 8th. He also competed in the 100m Free, 200m Free and the 50m Free where he finished a credible 25th, 21st and 15th.

Jessica also became a National A' finalist and was tormenting Britain's best swimmers with her talent. She easily made the A' Final in the 50, 100 and 200m Free and also the 100m backstroke. Smashing her short course best times in a long course pool was almost like putting a cat amongst pigeons when it came to the finals. She achieved two 4th places, a 5th and a 7th and is serious one to watch in the future.

For Stephanie, in the other World Championship Events in her Category (S14), were the 100m backstroke and the 100m breaststroke. The back was on the first day of the three day trials and Steph qualified for the A' final. But feeling under the weather it became apparent Steph was not going to be able to swim at her full capability, she finished in 4th place. On the Sat Steph progressively felt better and nearly equalled her best time in the A' final of the breaststroke taking a Bronze Medal but was outside the World Champs QT.

Steph commented, “I had been working towards this competition for a long time and knew I would be well prepared. But trying to swim at my best whilst dealing with a head and tummy ache didn't help my case. By Sunday I felt good in warm up and I knew the 200 free final would be my best swim. I just can't believe I missed the QT by such a tiny amount! My coach has now eased my training for a few days and then I am going to get my head down because I want to be on the European Team in 2011 and the Olympic Team in 2012.

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