Sedgefield's Matthew Bowden is in the Czech Republic this weekend as a member of the British Under-18 water polo team to face the Polish, Belgian and Czech sides in an international tournament, writes ERIC WILKINSON.

He was also selected for the English Schools team, along with clubmate Angie Winstanley-Smith, Andrew Thirlwell (Newcastle), Chris Surtees (Middlesbrough) and Joanne Jackson (Richmond) for the annual schools' international swimming contest against Scotland, Wales and Ireland, which was due to be held in Wrexham tomorrow but has been cancelled because of the foot and mouth outbreak.

Senior internationals Julie Fort, Sarah Whewell, Darren Wigg and Chris Cook from Newcastle along with coach Ian Oliver are on a two-week long course training camp in Lanzarote which means they will miss the second of this year's Northumberland and Durham championship galas at Middlesbrough this weekend, along with ten of their fellow club members who are competing in the Glasgow British Grand Priz fixture.

Philip Wright (Wear Valley) is favourite for three men's titles, 100m breaststroke, 200m individual medley, 400m freestyle at Middlesbrough; Robert Whittle (Newcastle University) is the fastest qualifier in two events, 50m butterfly and 100m individual medley; Nick Jackson (Newcastle) is in pole position for the 200m butterfly.

Top women qualifiers include Joanne Jackson (Richmond) 200m butterfly, Rachel Thompson (Newcastle) 50m butterfly, Angie Winstanley-Smith 200m individual medley and Charlotte Nichols 100m breaststroke (both Sedgefield).

In pole position in four age groups races, 13yrs 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 50m and 400m freestyle, is Danielle Berry (Newcastle) who along with club mate Andrew Thirlwell received Rising Star awards at the Newcastle annual sports presentations.

The N-E team for the ASA's women's inter-district water polo competition at Manchester this weekend includes Carol Mohan (Sedgefield). Two of her fellow team members, Angie Winstanley-Smith and Samantha Mitchell would have also been chosen but are not available.

Tynemouth were top scorers with 177 points in the division one Durham and District Junior swimming league gala two at Bishop Auckland; Wear Valley scored 170, Chester-le-Street 158, Darlington 148, Stokesley 132, Gateshead 110.

Division Two winners were South Tyneside 176, Hartlepool and Durham scored 159, with Hartlepool taking second place with 13 wins to Durham's 12, Sunderland totalled 156, Richmond 131, Derwentside 97.

The Division Three results was Newburn 191, Consett 183, Billingham 155, Hebburn 128, Blyth 124.