The final domestic preparation event for the Athens Olympics took place at the Manchester Aquatics Centre in July. The English National (long course) Championships are a regular fixture in the swimming calendar at this time of year and for James it represented one of his last opportunities to get some race practice before the biggest event of them all, the Olympic Games which take place in Athens in August.

No longer swimming 200m Butterfly these days, the young(ish) Mancunian now prefers the shorter 100m event and instead of his old rival Stephen Parry, he has a new and much younger opponent to contend with, Todd Cooper of Stirling. You may recall that Cooper took Hickman’s 100m British Title by the narrowest of margins at the Olympic Trials in Sheffield earlier in the year.

However, James was in no mood to give up his English National Title to the young Scot coming home to take victory in a time of 53.31 secs. Cooper was second in 53.51 secs with Matthew Bowe of Bath in third in 54.54 secs. The victory represented Hickman’s SEVENTH consecutive English National Title at 100m Butterfly which we believe to be a record and we have asked the ASA to confirm this. In the meantime, if you think you know the answer then please email us at

“It’s not my greatest swim”, Hickman said afterwards “but I’m quite pleased all the same. I’ve been training very hard and my muscles are quite tired. I’ll be a lot better rested for Athens.”