Mark Foster (swimmer)

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Mark Foster
Mark foster swimmer.jpg
Personal information
Full name Mark Andrew Foster
Nationality British
Born (1970-05-12) 12 May 1970 (age 44)
Billericay, Essex, UK
Height 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Weight 90 kg (200 lb; 14 st)
Sport
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Freestyle, butterfly
Club University of Bath SC

Mark Andrew Foster (born 12 May 1970 in Billericay, Essex, UK) is a retired[1] British swimmer, specialising in butterfly and freestyle at 50 metres.

He is a specialist short course (25 metre pool) swimmer. In terms of medals and longevity (1986–2008), Foster is amongst the most successful British swimmers of all-time. He was the fastest swimmer in the country by age 15. He made a comeback at the national championships in July 2007 winning both events he competed in after barely training.[2] He achieved the fifth best time in 2007 in the world at 50 metres freestyle[citation needed] and retired for the second time after the 2008 Olympics. He has six World Championship titles, two Commonwealth titles and ten European titles to his name.[3]

Early career[edit]

Foster was first taught by Ann Hardcastle, the mother of Sarah Hardcastle at a pool in Southend-on-Sea.[4] He was the fastest swimmer in the country by age 15.[5]

Mark Foster was educated at Alleyn Court Preparatory School in Westcliff on Sea, Millfield School, and Southend High School for Boys where he excelled in athletics, football and tennis.[citation needed].

International career[edit]

First selected for the British team in 1985, the breakthrough came in 1990 when he won his first individual international medal - bronze - in the Commonwealth Games in Auckland. He finished the 50 metres freestyle with a time of 23.16 seconds. He had previously won bronze as part of the 100 metre freestyle relay in the Edinburgh games four years previous, but cites the 1990 medal as his first great sporting moment.[6]

Success followed rapidly, and in the next few years Foster broke the World Short Course freestyle record four times, the World Short Course butterfly record twice, and set the World Long Course butterfly record (in 1996) with a time of 24.07 seconds.

Foster trained at The Race Club, a Florida swim camp founded by Olympic Swimmers Gary Hall, Jr. and his father, Gary Hall, Sr. The Race Club, originally known as "The World Team," was designed to serve as a training group for elite swimmers across the world in preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. To be able to train with the Race Club, one must either have been ranked in the top 20 in the world the past 3 calendar years or top 3 in their nation in the past year. The Race Club included such well known swimmers as Foster, Roland Mark Schoeman, Ryk Neethling, and Therese Alshammar.[7]

Despite success at Commonwealth, European and World championship level mostly at short courses, Olympic titles eluded him and he has never won a medal. Some have suggested that he has never quite achieved his full potential, arguing his maverick approach to training and preparation cost him an individual Olympic medal, as long course events are more challenging and require more disciplined training approach for success.[citation needed]

In 2004, Foster was to face the disappointment of not being selected for the Olympic Games. At the British Olympic Trials, he won the 50 free in 22.49 seconds, well under the Olympic qualifying standard but seven hundredths of a second below the standard National Team Director Bill Sweetenham had set for inclusion in the British Olympic Team. Foster has openly criticised Sweetenham's management style and Sweetenham ensured that he was not selected.[citation needed]

Nonetheless he was to respond to his omission from the Olympic squad with a gold medal in the World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis later that year. In the 50 metre freestyle he achieved 21.58 seconds, ahead of Stefan Nystrand of Sweden. Although Foster announced his retirement from swimming after the European short course championships in April 2006 at the age of 35, he still occasionally competed that year at invitational meets.

Foster at the parade in London to celebrate the achievements of British competitors at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

He returned from "retirement" in 2007 with an aim to win an Olympic medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. Returning to the British squad he won a silver medal in the 50 m freestyle at the 2008 FINA Short Course World Championships, and qualified to represent Great Britain at the same distance in the Olympics. At the opening ceremony on 8 August, he carried the flag for Great Britain during the Parade of Nations. He failed to qualify for the men's 50 m freestyle semi-finals, finishing almost two-tenths of a second outside the top 16.[8]

Charity work[edit]

In May 2009, Mark Foster became patron of The Anaphylaxis Campaign, the UK charity for people with severe allergies.[9] He won £10,000 for the Campaign by participating in Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, broadcast on ITV on 8 September 2009. Foster's friend, Scottish athlete Ross Baillie died from anaphylaxis in 1999 shortly after having lunch together.[10]

In October 2008, Foster was announced as a celebrity judge for the Miele Fashion Prize, in aid of children's medical charity, Sparks.[11]

In June 2009, Foster supported ActionAid's PoverTee Day by having a T-shirt painted on his torso.[12]

Mark is also an ambassador for the UK charity SportsAid, which supported him in the early days of his career, helping talented young sports people to achieve their ambitions.

Media appearances[edit]

Foster appeared on the ITV show Beat the Star first broadcast on 4 April 2008 in which he won 18-3, appearing as the 'star' and as a guest home owner on BBC2's Through the Keyhole first broadcast on 28 May 2008.[citation needed]

During Summer 2008, he appeared on the new series of Superstars broadcast on Five in the UK.[citation needed]

He later appeared on a Strictly Come Dancing special of the Weakest Link in December 2008, and won £15,900 for charity, beating Anton du Beke in the final round. He had previously appeared on an Olympic special, but did not win.

Foster co-presented BBC Look East's 6.30 pm bulletin, with Susie Fowler-Watt on Thursday 12 February 2009.

Foster was a contestant on the BBC1 programme 'Let's Dance For Sport Relief' as a member of the dance group "The Olympians".

Foster regularly appears on BBC TV regional news and local radio in his role of Ambassador of Pools 4 Schools, a programme run by Total Swimming with the Amateur Swimming Association to increase participation in swimming amongst primary school children.

Foster appears in advertisements for "Wellman" nutritional products.

Foster appeared in the ITV2 Show Celebrity Juice on 23 March 2012 for the Sports Relief Special.

On 27 July 2012, Foster appeared on a Paralympic special of the Channel 4 show The Million Pound Drop with Countdown Presenter Rachel Riley. They won £50,000 for charity.

Foster often appears as an analyst for BBC Sport's coverage of Swimming meetings.

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

Foster competed in the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing with professional dancer Hayley Holt. He managed to stay in the competition until Week Six when he was voted off by the judges in the dance-off, while they saved Andrew Castle. He participated in the Strictly arena tour in 2012, dancing with Natalie Lowe.

Week # Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Horwood Phillips Goodman Tonioli Total
1 Waltz / Tennessee Waltz 3 6 7 6 22 Safe
3 Tango / Tanguera 5 5 7 7 24 Bottom Two/Saved
5 Samba / Spice Up Your Life 3 4 5 5 17 Safe
6 Paso Doble / Since U Been Gone 2 4 5 5 16 Bottom Two/Eliminated

Personal bests and records held[edit]

Long course (50 m)
Event Time


Date Meet Location Ref
50 m freestyle  21.96  21 Jun 2008 Golden Bear Zagreb, Croatia [13]
100 m freestyle  51.67  18 Aug 1994 Commonwealth Games Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
50 m butterfly  23.51  8 June 2003 Golden Bear Zagreb, Croatia [14]
Short course (25 m)
Event Time


Date Meet Location Ref
50 m freestyle  21.13  NR
28 Jan 2001 World Cup Paris, France
100 m freestyle  49.65  2 Dec 1993 World SC Championships Palma de Mallorca, Spain
50 m butterfly  22:87  NR
17 Jan 2001 World Cup Sheffield, United Kingdom

Legend: WRWorld record; EREuropean record; CRCommonwealth record; NRBritish record;
Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final; – en route to final mark; tt – time trial


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Celebrity golfers get in swing for Celtic Manor tournament". South Wales Argus. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Mark Foster: I know winning isn’t everything". Daily Express. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Lamont, Tom (1 February 2009). "Local heroes: Mark Foster". The Observer (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Foster plans first Olympic medal". BBC News. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ "The World Team". The Race Club. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  8. ^ "Olympics: Foster crashes out of 50m freestyle". The Guardian (London). 14 August 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ "Peanut allergy athlete dies". BBC News. 18 June 1999. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  11. ^ [4][dead link]
  12. ^ [5][dead link]
  13. ^ "Foster Breaks 50m Freestyle Record". British Swimming. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  14. ^ Jeff Powell (10 June 2003). "Lewis to face tough stand-in Klitschko". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by

United States Steve Crocker
Russia Alexander Popov
United States Anthony Ervin
Men's 50 metre freestyle
world record holder (short course)

17 February 1993 – 13 March 1994
13 December 1998 - 23 March 2000
28 January 2001 - 25 March 2004
Succeeded by

Russia Alexander Popov
South Africa Roland Schoeman
France Frédérick Bousquet
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Kate Howey
Flagbearer for  Great Britain
Beijing 2008
Succeeded by
Chris Hoy