|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | QUIZ | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2001 CALENDAR|
By BBC Five Live's Bob Ballard
To say that the past year has not been a vintage one for British swimming would be a huge understatement.
Leaving aside the Olympic Games, the lowest ebb surely, with no medal for the first time in 64 years, there were very few high spots.
There were medals a-plenty at the World Short Course Championships in Athens in March. Mark Foster, as is customary, won the 50 metres freestyle, but can't seen to adapt his stroke to the same event in the long course pool, and the women's 4x200 freestyle relay team set a new world record.
But there's the rub, Britain performs consistently in the 25 metre pool, but neither of the two major swimming nations, the USA or Australia, take the short course events seriously.
The emphasis will change under the new director of performance, Bill Sweetenham, who is one of the better things to happen to the sport in this country this year.
From a domestic point of view, the European Long Course Championships in Helsinki suffered from a feeble turn-out of competitors.
Just 17 made the trip to Finland because of the close proximity of the Olympic trials. With hindsight, many will be regretting a chance to put themselves up against Europe's best in Olympic year.
So who emerges with credit from the past year?
Undoubtedly Steven Parry, who beat the world record holder Tom Malchow in his own back yard in the 200 metres butterfly at the US Nationals in March.
Karen Pickering, who just seems to be getting better, when some thought retirement might be uppermost in her mind. Her recent performances in the World Cup have shown she is still the gutsiest female swimmer Britain has.
Jamie Salter is certainly one to watch over the coming year. For a while he has lived in the shadow of Paul Palmer, but he's enjoying life in Edinburgh, and it's showing in his performances in the pool at 200 and 400 freestyle.
The most promising growth area has come in the women's backstroke. Katy Sexton, Jo Fargus, Helen Don Duncan and Sarah Price hotly disputed the British records throughout 2000.
We shouldn't forget the great strides being made by Alison Sheppard. The Scottish swimmer, based with husband Gary in British Columbia, is looking better and better in the 50 metres freestyle. It's just a pity that it's one of the events dominated by the swimmer of the year, in my book, Inge de Bruijn.
Anyone who witnessed the Dutch swimmer smash records out of sight in Sheffield at the Grand Prix meeting is never likely to forget it.
The accusations that the performances have been drug-induced have dogged her all year, but the biggest smile on the planet, shown by de Bruijn after her triumphs in Sydney, was her way of telling the world that she has nothing to fear, even with the more stringent tests being brought in.
Man of the year? Not Ian Thorpe, not even the man who robbed him of 200 metres freestyle gold at the Olympics, Pieter Van den Hoogenband, nor Alexander Popov who came back to prove his critics wrong with a world record in the 50 freestyle.
For me it has to be the greatest backstroker of all time, Lenny Krayzelburg.
The man looks equally at ease over 50, 100 or 200 metres, and has the kind of demeanour that is good for the sport.
Whether anyone can knock him off his pedestal in the next few years is open to question, and he is one of the hottest favourites for next summer's World Championships in Japan.
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