Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED), Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle, will take to his blocks at Dutch nationals in Eindhoven today in the home pool where his last outing ended in withdrawal through ill health and where his world record in the 100m feel to Alain Bernard of France.
Hoogie, who has a chance to become the first man ever to win the same Olympic title at three Games (its a women-only club so far, with Fraser and Egerzegi the only members), will try out a new Nike suit but has permission from his sponsor to try out the Speedo LZR, among other suits, to see what works best for him (thank you to the Dutch colleague who sent me a note on that - a copy of what you requested is on its way).
The Eindhoven meet will also mark a new start for Andrew Bree, of Ireland, will race for the first time since being given no more than a warning after testing positive for a stimulant found in an over-the-counter cold remedy in the US. The case was good news for Bree and swimming but must surely have gone down badly with poor old Alain Baxter, as a colleague from the British media reminded me this week. For those who don't recall the case: British slalom skier Baxter won a bronze at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002 and then had his prize taken away. Baxter bought a US Vic inhaler over the counter (unwise, of course, just as it was for Bree) and tested positive for L-Metamphetamine and lost his bronze medal. It would have been a first for Britain.
The difference, of course, if clear: Baxter might have gained in competition from the effects of the substance, where Bree's test was out-of-competition and could not have enhanced any performance. It has been accepted that the actions of both men were inadvertent.
Bree told the Irish Independent today that signs are good for solid performances at the Olympics in Beijing: "e;They tell me that I'm on track for Beijing where I will need to be down to a 2:10 or 2:11. I have come through a tough time with the whole drug issue but that's behind me."e;