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No records for Maltese swimmers in Athens

The two Maltese swimmers in Greece yesterday failed to register new national records during the heats on the opening day of competition at the open air Olympic Aquatic Centre where temperatures soared to above 37°C.

Neil Agius, 18, was less than a second slower from his personal best time in the 400m freestyle race and Angela Galea was also way off her mark in the 100m butterfly event.

With the GSSE 2005 only 10 months away, the national swimming squad is still without a coach after the departure of Attila Selmeci last year.

Yesterday's negative results could probably be attributed to a lack of an adequate training programme, practised over various months throughout the season, along with other problems hitting the sport at the National Pool Complex.

Galea, 21, finished fourth in her heat yesterday after a good recovery in the last 50 metres. Her timing of 1:05.47 was better than that of Mariya Bugakova (Uzbekistan - 1:07.08) and Natasha Sara Georgeos (Saint Lucia - 1:07.94).

Galea, whose national record for the distance, achieved last year in the GSSE, is 1:03.62, was beaten by Kateryna Zubkova (Ukraine - 1:02.22), Cheng Wan-Jung (Taiwan) 1:02.94 and Gulsah Gonenc (Turkey - 1:04.30).

The national record for the 400m freestyle in Malta belongs to Agius - 4.21.24. Yesterday, however, he could not match that timing and finished seventh in his heat with a 4:22.14.

The Maltese swimmer was beaten by Juan Carlos Miguel Mendoza (Philippines - 4:01.99), Chen Te-Tung (Taiwan - 4:03.71), Emanuele Nicolini (San Marino - 4:08.28); Anas Sameer Abuyousuf (Qatar - 4:11.99), Vasily Danilov (Kyrgy-zstan - 4:15.32) and Sergey Tsoy (Uzbekistan - 4:16.91).

Aquilina in action today

Maltese sailor Mario Aquilina, 28, will be figuring in his first Athens 2004 race in the Single-handed Dinghy-Laser today at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre.

A fleet of 42 is listed for this class with most of the sailors registered enjoying a high position in the world rankings. The favourites here are Paul Goodison, of Britain, and Brazilian Robert Scheidt, the second seed.

In all, there are 11 Laser Class races scheduled between today and next Sunday. Scheidt, 31, was the silver medallist in Sydney four years ago. Olympics 2000 gold medallist Ben Ainslie, also of Britain, is not taking part in Laser this time.

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