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Munoz 0.06sec Shy Of Crocker WR 100 Fly

Apr 25, 2009  - Craig Lord

Rafael Munoz, the France-based Spaniard, downed the European 100m 'fly record in 50.46, just 0.06sec shy of Ian Crocker's world record, at French nationals in Montpellier tonight. The European standard had stood at 50.59 to Milorad Cavic (SRB) since  he fell 0.01sec shy of Michael Phelps's thunderous roll into the wall at the Olympic Games last year. 

In second place in Montpellier, in a French record (of course), was Clement Lefert, on 51.42. The best times of each of those me four months ago: 52.09 for Munoz and 54.40 for Lefert. 

Crocker is a supreme athlete, a man who has tussled and struggled with the task of handling Mr Phelps and himself on some of the biggest occasions, while proving his excellence in a powerful way on other big occasions. His career consistency has been exemplary. As is this pathway amidst 29 sub-52sec swims over five years: 

  • 2008: 51.13
  • 2006: 51.47
  • 2005: 50.40
  • 2004: 50.76
  • 2003: 50.98
  • 2002: 52.21
  • 2001: 52.25
  • 2000: 52.24
  • 1999: 54.31 (aged 17)
  • 1998: 54.94 

Munoz, who has been sub-52sec on five occasions (all in 2009), has reached 50.4 down a much shorter road than Crocker's:

  • 2009 50.46 April
  • 2009 51.93 February
  • 2008 52.09 March (first fast-suit swim)
  • 2007 53.24
  • 2006 54.40 (aged 18)
  • 2006 55.43 April (before that he did not make the best 300 in that year)

The new all-time top 10:

  • 50.40 Crocker USA 2005 (2004: 50.76)
  • 50.46 Munoz ESP (2008: 52.09)
  • 50.58 Phelps USA (2007: 50.77)
  • 50.59 Cavic SRB (2007: 51.70)
  • 51.10 Serdinov UKR (2007: 52.11)
  • 51.12 Lauterstein AUS (2007: 52.53)
  • 51.14 Dunford KEN (2007: 51.85)
  • 51.24 Mankoc SLO (2007: 52.30)
  • 51.28 Fujii JPN (2008: 51.50)
  • 51.33 Kawamoto JON (2007: 53.64)

Munoz is now favourite for the Rome 2009 title. One thing to wear a fast suit, another to stand on a block next to the likes of Phelps and Cavic, of course.

In 3rd, 4th, and 5th places in that 100m 'fly final, we witnessed these gains:

  • Romain Sassot, 23, Lyon: 52.48 (2008: 53.99)
  • Thomas Vilaceca, 19, En Albi: 53.19 (no pre-2009 top 300 in world form)
  • Florent Manaudou: 19, Amberieu (brother of Laure): 53.27 (no pre-2009 top 300 in world form)

Perhaps either or both of those men 19 this year will turn out to be of the kind of calibre that Crocker showed from his junior days. Both are now as fast as Crocker was when he was 19, and wearing briefs at a time when American youngsters didn't seem quite so bothered by such things.

The women's 100m 'fly final saw Aurore Mongel, 27 this year, lower her national 100m 'fly mark from 58.30 to 57.80, while 30-year-old Diane Bui Duyet set a best time of 58.64 for second. The fast suits have given both women a new lease of life. Mongel spent four year between 2004 and Feb 2008 between a best of 59.33 and 1:01. In 2008, she dropped to 58.30 and 2009 has seen a further half second drop. Bui Duyet spend 2000-2007 between 1:01.85 and 1:00.81. In 2008 she dropped to 59.24, and 2009 has seen another 0.6sec shed. 

The 200m backstroke final was won by Alex Castel, Toulouse, in 2:07.55, 0.91sec adrift Laure Manaudou's French record. The men's backstroke crown went to Ben Stasiulis, Paris, in 1:57.90, ahead of  Jeremy Stravius, Amiens, on 1:59.12. Not sure about the nuance of the selection policy in France, but a fifth place for Pierre Roger, Paris, in over 2 minutes, followed a semi-final French record of 1:56.64. We assume Roger will be in Rome but as I write I cannot say for sure. His bodysuit apparently broke just before the final, so he wore ... well, something else....

In the 200m freestyle semis, Coralie Balmy, Toulouse, produced the only sub 2-minute swim in the first field, in 1:59.50, while the second eight was led by France-based Swede Gabriella Fagundez, in 1:59.17, followed by three others under the 2-minute mark. Fastest in the men's 200m semi was Paris-based Tunisian Ahmed Mathlouthi, 20 this year and on the move: his 1:47.65 new best compares to a 2007 best of 1:52.82 and 2008 best of 1:52.88. Not bad. It also left him just 0.37sec shy of Olympic 1,500m champ Oussama Mellouli's Tunisian record. The new Tunisian threat dropped to 1:50.82 in January and the rest has been axed away in the four months since, at a time when traditionally you might be putting in a fair bit of hefty winter work. Mellouli took six years to drop from 1:52 to 1:47. 

Another North African on the move is 22-year-old Sara El Bekri, Lyon-based Moroccan, who set a championship record of 1:08.23 in the 100m breaststroke semis. First Frenchwoman through to the final was Sophie de Ronchi, Massy and five national breaststroke record under her tight-fitting girdle already at these French nationals. The 24-year-old clocked 1:08.81, after 1:09.07 in heats. El Bekri's swim compares to her big pb of 2008, a 1:08.66 in Beijing (at the height of the big summer moment) and a best before that of 1:11.03. Watch for that drop from De Ronchi in the final.

In the 100m breaststroke semis, Giacomo Perez Dortona, of Marseille and 20 this year, clocked 1:00.80 ahead of training partner and British international James Gibson, 0.04sec adrift. Gibson, 2003 50m world champion and 100m bronze medallist, has form. Between February and today, Dortona has gone from a best of 1:02.58 to 1:00.80. Brazil's Paris-based Henrique Barbosa challenged the minute mark with a 1:00.05 win in the second semi ahead of Olympic medallist Hugues Duboscq, on 1:01.49. Barbosa, on a 1:01 from the pre-Feb 2008 era, has been building to the minute challenge for a while.

The 200m medley semis also produced a French record, of 2:00.38 for Christophe Soulier, 25. The standard had stood at 2:01.08 to Xavier Marchand, Toulouse, since 1997, at a time when the bodysuit was a dream in the lab. A championship record of 1:57.03 fell to Darian Townsnd (RSA), racing for Paris. Soulier's 2008 best: 2:02.37, after 2:05.27 in 2007.

That makes 25 French records (I think) going into the last day of action in Montpellier.