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James takes double gold at the British 25m Championships in Stockport

In home waters, Steve Parry of Stockport Metro looked to have the Men’s 100m Butterfly gold in his possession but a late flurry by James saw both swimmer’s tie for first place in 52.52. Matt Bowe of Bath was third in 52.90.

However, Parry took the honours in a close contest in the men’s 200m butterfly touching first ahead of the four-time world short course champion. Parry clocked 1.53.19sec, with Hickman just behind in 1.53.61sec. Matthew Edwards picked up the bronze in 1.56.55sec.

However, Hickman who now swims for City of Manchester Acquatics took the gold in the Men’s 100m Individual Medley when he built up an impressive lead over the first three legs to hold on to victory in 54.91. Adrian Turner of Stockport was second in 55.66 and Edmond was third in 55.67.

There was further good news for James in the 50m Butterfly, when he predictably finished second behind Mark Foster of Bath University. Foster who has pretty much made the 50m event his own over the years, hung on to win in 23.57 finishing just ahead of Hickman who clocked a new personal best in 23.69 with David Jones of Llanelli in third place in 25.01

Hickman bows out for Leeds with Title Double

James Hickman brought his auspicious career with the City of Leeds to an end with two National Championship titles in Manchester on Sunday, after making the decision to return to his home city to begin his preparations for next years Olympic Games.

The four-time World Short Course Champion was the eventual winner in the men’s 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley after two fiercely contested races on the final day of the ASA National Championships, taking his tally to three over the weekend. He will return to the Aquatics Centre tomorrow as a City of Manchester swimmer, with his sights firmly set on success in Athens next year.

“It’s just one year to go now and I’m back in Manchester for the final push to the Olympics,” Hickman said. “I’ve got new goals now and it’s good to get settled back here in Manchester. This is where it all started for me and I think this will be a good move. The Leeds club will always have a place in my heart. I’ve had all my best achievements as a Leeds swimmer, with World records and numerous World and European titles, so I’m really sad to be leaving but I’m delighted that I could finish on a high.”

Hickman battled with Nova’s Nathan Oxford for the 100m backstroke title, finishing in 57.11sec, and notched up his second victory of the day in the 200m medley event, clocking 2.05.48sec after a close race with the 400m champion Matthew Ferrarelli of Nova and Portsmouth’s Christopher Thompson.

Hickman Retires from 200m Butterfly and moves back to Manchester - A personal message from James - June 2003

"Following my failure to qualify for the World Championships in Barcelona, I have taken the decision to retire from competition in the 200m Butterfly event and focus my attention on the 100m Butterfly event instead.

This is a decision that I have been thinking about since the Commonwealth Games in Manchester last year and with the Olympic Games in Athens just 12 months away, I feel this is the right time to devote my attention to one event rather than "sitting on the fence" which may have afftected my performance in both events in recent months.

In my opinion, the 200m event in Britain is in great shape and Stephen Parry represents a realistic medal prospect and I wish him well. It won't be the same for me without those great battles we have had over the years !!

Naturally, I was disappointed, as Britain's fastest 100m Butterfly swimmer, that I did have not the opportunity to compete at the World Championships but I still believe that the 100m event represents the best route forward for me at this stage in my career and I am confident that I can be a genuine contender over this distance in Athens.

 It is still my intention, however, to compete at the 200m Butterfly in short course competition in which I have won four consecutive World titles and it would be very nice to make it five next year, if given that opportunity.

I have also taken the decision, following the retirement of my coach, Terry Denison, to return to Manchester where I will train for the Olympics next year and I will, therefore, no longer be swimming for City of Leeds. I have had five great years in Leeds and I have made lots of friends who have been very supportive. I am also indebted to Terry for everything he has done for me. It was a real priviledge to work with him.

Having said that, I am really looking forward to getting back to Manchester where I will be training at the excellent facilities offered by the Aquatics Centre and it will be nice to be near my family for a change. "

Devastated Hickman misses out on World Championships spot

The Scottish National Championships was the final opportunity for James to qualify for next month's World Championships (50m) in Barcelona. Having missed out on the Championships two years ago in Japan, James was anxious to make the GB team selection. After a poor British Championships in March, the 27 year old Mancunian put himself through intensive altitude training in Arizona in May in a bid to make the qualifying time. However, there was further disappointment to come in Glasgow. Despite winning the 100m Butterfly to re-assert his position as the number one British swimmer over the distance his time of 53.61 secs was outside the required time of 52.82 to qualify. Todd Cooper and Stephen Parry were second and third with times of 53.76 and 55.06 respectively.

Failure to qualify in the 100m meant it that was all down to the 200m Butterfly, James' preferred event. His arch-rival, Stephen Parry had already assured himself of qualification when he cruised to an easy victory at the British Championships in March. Again in Glasgow, Parry proved, at least on current form, that there is a big margin between him and the best of the rest in the 200m event as he swam to victory in 1:57.09 once again comfortably inside the qualification time. James was second in 1:58.87 over a second outside the qualifying time of 1:57.70 but a substantial improvement over his performance in Sheffield. Stirling's Mark Lewis was third in 2:03.26

"I'm devastated", James said afterwards. "I gave this one everything. I won't be going to the World's but now I have got to focus my attention on the Olympics in Athens next year."

James Hickman

The disappointment shows as James realises he has failed to qualify for the World Championships.

© SWPIX.COM

End of an era as the Coach heads for the lay-by.....

On Monday 31st March, Terry Denison, my coach for the last five years retired. While it's sad to see him go after a long and distinguished career he truly deserves the rest, especially from the early morning starts. (Some might say he looks like he needs it but not me.) Terry coached Adrian Moorhouse to an Olympic gold medal in 1988 and this was truly my inspiration to become an international swimmer. He is one of the people I have tried to emulate. At the age of 12, little did I know that I would be working with Terry later on in my career. I actually started to train with Terry in 1998 and since then he has helped guide me to many international titles. All in all I've won over 30 international senior medals with Terry and broke two world short course records. But my successes have been just a drop in the ocean of successes Terry has had with many swimmers over his 30 years of coaching. The list is too long to go through here but click here if you want to read more about Terry's many achievements. The City of Leeds will certainly be different without him and so will British Swimming; there will be quite a void to fill! Over the time he coached me he always pushed me to break my limits and go past perceived boundaries. There was nothing that happened in the world of swimming without Terry knowing. I hope he has an enjoyable retirement and that he, and Mona (his wife), get to do all those things you put off because of the dedication required to succeeding with so many swimmers. Thanks for everything Terry and good luck !

Disappointing British Championships for Dolphin Boy

Defeat by more than three seconds at the hands (and feet) of his arch rival, Stephen Parry, in the 200m Butterfly rounded off a miserable week for James at the British Championships (50m) which were also doubling as the trials for this year's World Championships in Barcelona. Parry looked very strong indeed winning the event in 1:56.35 while our own out-of-sorts Dolphin Boy failed to break magic two minute barrier, finishing in 2:00.04 comfortably ahead of Todd Cooper in third. The event still proved that Hickman and Parry are still Britain's top two Butterfliers over the 200m distance but Hickman will be disappointed with his performance. Earlier in the week, Todd Cooper pulled-off a surprise victory in the final of the 100m Butterfly which meant that James went home without any British Titles in his preferred Butterfly events and more importantly hasn't secured qualification for the World Championships team, although there are further events in which to qualify. "I'm really disappointed with my swims here this week. I can't really explain it, I just feel flat at the moment. There's no 'buzz', no 'spark'. The fire really needs to be burning if you want to swim well", he told JamesHickman.com afterwards. "But I'll bounce back. I've been there before and I know how to deal with it now. There's been a lot going on recently and I've just got to find my focus again", he added. James next opportunity to qualify for the World Championships comes in Glasgow in June.

James writes for the Manchester Evening News 10.03.2003

There's a fair bit happening at the moment. My mum and sister are unwell. City have had a major boardroom upheaval. I'm starting to manage ten of Britains best swimmers. Trials for the world championships start next week in Sheffield and I'm swimming in them! I'm going to need to focus on what is important. Answers on a postcard.

I've just read John McEnroe's autobiography and one of the things it has helped re-in force for me is that everybody has their problems to deal with. The grass may look greener but it isn't any different really, just in a different field. The trick is balancing them well enough.

So back to the job of swimming, the job I'm best at and have trained hard at for 20 years. This year trials are back to Sheffield, and a welcome return after a two-year absence. The last time we swam there was the Sydney Olympic trials in 2000. I think it's the best pool in the country, well the fastest anyway.

I'm torn between Manchester and Sheffield for the best. The extra lanes in the Sheffield pool mean that turbulence from wash has more water to dissipate into and make for calmer water to race in.

Qualification for the World Championships, which are in Barcelona in July, is tough. The hard-hitting Australian, Bill Sweetenham is our national performance director has set fast, difficult time to achieve selection for the team. I'm all in favour of lifting the standard to as high a level as possible, although this did mean that Steven Parry and I missed out on the 2001 world championship team that went to Japan. You will be able to see the action in television on the final day, a week on Sunday. Steve and I will be going head to head for the ten zillionth time in the 200m butterfly final. Unfortunately you will not be able to see the team selected. The original date for the trials was changed for television, pretty important but due to a class with the American national college competition that some of our best swimmers will be in, there will now be another selection point at an non-televised event in Glasgow in June. It's a shame, as I like the one chance selection and announcement of the team atone competition, as it's more exciting for the swimmers and the public too.

Swimming is moving swiftly with the times with results and information is up at the British swimming website (www.britishswimming.org) very quickly but even better than that, for those that prefer, for the first time you can now even get up the second text messages! It's a bit quicker than answers on a postcard anyway.

James stars in "Magnificent Seven" !!

So he's no Steve McQueen but our very own World Short Course 200m Butterfly Champion, James Hickman, was one of seven special guests who came out to support the valuable work of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award at the prestigious Carlton Tower Hotel in London's Knightsbridge on 25th February. The 27 yr old Mancunian who swims for City of Leeds was invited to attend the "Magnificent Seven" charity dinner, held in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex, along with other high-achievers from both the sporting and non-sporting arenas to endorse the work of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and to help raise funds for it's valuable work with young people.

James Hickman

James meets HRH The Countess of Wessex

Photo by kind permission of Steven Parry Donald

Other guests included 23 yr old Andrew Cooney who earlier this year became the youngest person ever to walk to the South Pole, Yachtswoman Tracy Edwards, Major Phil Ashby who daringly escaped from captivity in Sierra Leone in 2000 and ex-England rugby star, Martin Bayfield.

James and the other special guests were seated at the Top Table and had dinner with HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex. After dinner, James spoke to the audience about the important work of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award thanking those attending the dinner for supporting it so generously and said that he was "immensely proud to be in the company of such extraordinary people". James kindly donated one of his gold medals from the recent FINA World Cup to be auctioned at the event. If you would like to know more about the work of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award please visit www.theaward.org

James makes guest appearance for City fans....

James recenty made an appearance at the "Reddish Blues" a Manchester City Supporters group. As everyone knows James is passionate about City !! To see some pictures from the evening just click on the link above.

Lincoln Vulcan's get swimming tips from the Maestro....

James writes:

"In January I was invited to do some swim demonstrations at Lincoln Vulcans Swimming Club, it was lots of fun and I hope the swimmers picked up lots of tips to help them be better swimmers. I'll be watching to see them move up in the national rankings now! You can see some pictures of my visit below. Thanks to everyone at Lincoln Vulcans for making me so welcome."

James Hickman

James Hickman

FINA World Cup (25m) - European Zone

Paris 17th & 18th January 2003

Stockholm 21st & 22nd January 2003

Berlin 25th & 26th January 2003

After the Christmas and New Year break the action resumed in the European Zone of the FINA World Cup, with three meets in three cities in just over a week. A world class field was assembled which included Olympic Champions, Ian Thorpe (AUS), Pieter vanden Hoogenband (NED) and Tom Malchow (USA) as well as a host of other leading names. At the end of the week the $200,000 in prize money would be awarded for the top three overall places in the mens and womens events.

In Paris, James comfortably beat Olympic Champion, Tom Malchow (USA) in the 200m Butterfly taking victory in 1.53.03 to Malchow's 1.54.0. To that he added gold in the 200 IM coming from behind with a superb swim in the freestyle leg to beat New Zealander, Dean Kent by 0.02 in a time of 1.57.32 and, in a very closely contested 100m Butterfly, finished second in 51.85 behind Igor Martchenko (RUS) who took gold in 51.56