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Fun And Games Begin in Montpellier

Apr 22, 2009  - Craig Lord

Before 10am, less than half an hour into heats at French nationals and three records of Gaul had fallen, all in the 50m 'fly, then within half an hour a fourth in the 50m breaststroke and not much later a fifth, in the 100m backstroke: fly - Mélanie Henique, 26.57; then Amaury Leveaux in 23.46; then a 22.84 blast by Frédérick Bousquet; breast - Perez Dortona, 27.50; and a 54.20 in the 100 back by Benjamin Stasiulis.

Rafa Munoz, the world record holder at 22.43, was quickest in heats ahead of the French bolters: the France-based Spaniard clocked 22.72.

Henrique, 17 this year, had held the standard in 26.90, set at European juniors last August. Bousquet and Leveaux were already the top two men in France over 50m 'fly, this being their progress to today's heats:

  • Bousquet: 2008, 23.54; 2007, 23.95.
  • Leveaux: 2008, 23.77; 2007, 23.82.

So, that's 0.7sec off and 0.31 off (so far) from fast-suit year 1 to fast-suit year 2. Bousquet said yesterday that the suit does not race on its own. Indeed not. We're looking forward to seeing how you go in the suit you wore back in Melbourne 2007 Fred. No idea as yet what he wore this morning but he indicated that he would try out the Jaked that helped sweep Munoz to a world record, of 22.43, that is precisely a second quicker than the world record and world title win in 2003 - one length.

Bousquet's time is second-best ever, while the man who held that 2003 standard, Matt Welsh (AUS), is about to pass from the all-time top 10.

  • 22.43 Munoz ESP
  • 22.84 Bousquet FRA
  • 22.96 Schoeman RSA
  • 23.11 Cavic SRB
  • 23.12 Crocker USA
  • 23.30 Lauterstein AUS
  • 23.31 Targett AUS
  • 23.36 Andkjar DEN
  • 23.38 Breus UKR
  • 23.43 Korotyshkin RUS
  • 23.43 - Welsh (AUS) 2003 world champion and record holder

The all-time top 10 spread is, for a few more hours at least, 1 second. In Welsh's day - all those many years ago - was 0.30, more in keeping with the trend of history:

2000: 0.45; 2001: 0.44; 2002: 0.45; 2003: 0.30sec; 2004: 0.38; 2005: 0.61; 2006: 0.61; 2007: 0.55; 2008: 0.54. Time will tell whether Rome 2009 brings this year into line with that - and if it does, the event will have entered an era unrecognisable from yesterday.

In the 50m breaststroke, 20-year-old Dortona's 27.50, just shy of the all-time top 10, gets past Olympic medallist Hugues Duboscq's French mark of 27.73 and inside his own best time of 27.83, set at Spanish Jaked nationals this month. Duboscq was next through at Montpellier in 28.05.

That 54.20 in the 100 back by Stasiulis, 23 this year, gets past the 2002 French record of 54.89 held by Pierre Roger, gets past Camille Lacourt's 54.66 national mark last month and gets past his own best of 54.97, set in Bordeaux in February. Stasiulis will need to be that sharp: next through was Jeremy Stravius, 21 this year, on 54.52. That's a best time by 1.16sec. In the men's 200m 'fly, Clément Lefert, 22, clocked 1:56.50, a best time by 1.43sec.

And that's that from the morning calm before the storm of semis and finals.