Muffat Makes It Two Textile WRs: 1:54.87
Mar 21, 2012 - Craig Lord
French Olympic trials and nationals, Dunkirk, day 4 finals and semis:
Women's 200m freestyle
The fastest ever in textile over 400m free two days ago, Camille Muffat added a second string to her uncharted-waters bow with a 1:54.87 French-record victory in the 200m freestyle this evening in Dunkirk. Only Federica Pellegrini (ITA), albeit four times, has swum faster than Muffat - in any suit, American Allison Schmitt's 1:54.96 from 2009 surpassed.
The world record is held at 1:52.98 by Pellegrini, the Olympic champion who wore two suits in 2008 and has a textile best of 1:55.45 from 2010.
In Dunkirk, the silver and second Olympic berth went to Coralie Balmy, 1:58.42, with Charlotte Bonnet, 1:58.55, and Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne on 1:59.15, the first in line for 4x200m relay spots.
Muffat yesterday took down the second Laure Manaudou French standard with 1:55.40 national record in the semi-final. Manaudou, winner of the 100m backstroke yesterday and set for her third Games, established the world record at 1:55.52 when claiming the 2007 world title in Melbourne.
Muffat raced a little more in control than she had yesterday, going out half a second slower down the first 50m; still .6sec slower at 100m; catching up to only 0.08sec down on yesterday's pace at the last turn; and 0.53sec better by the end.
The day before yesterday, Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin in Nice, clocked the fastest 400m freestyle ever by a swimmer in textile suit, on 4:01.13.
How Olympic season is shaping up (top 5, 2 per nation):
The 1:54.97 clocked by Sara Isakovic (SLO) to make the podium at Beijing 2008 was said to have been swum in a textile arena suit; under new suit rules that forbid the bodysuit cut, Melissa Franklin (USA) was the fastest until today, with a 1:55.06 leading off the US 4x200m freestyle relay to the world title in Shanghai last year. Muffat may not be the first below 1:55 in textile but the textile best is no longer in doubt.
Muffat had kinds words for the woman who set the pace for France, Manaudou, saying, with a nod to the 400m former world record in particular: "If it had not been there, I would not have a record of France as low. I would not have had in mind 4mins, rather 4:08, thats where my sights would have been set. You need a reference and that was what she was."
Alain Bernard, defending Olympic champion, goes into the final of the 100m freestyle tomorrow in third place after a 48.61 effort in semis left him 0.03sec behind Yannick Agnel in the first semi and adrift Amaury Leveaux, on 48.48 at the helm of the second semi.
In the first semi, 200m champion and all-time textile No3 Agnel set an Olympic A time of 48.58 ahead of Bernard, on 48.61, with Agnel's training partner at Nice, Clément Lefert on 49.00, Fred Bousquet on 49.09, Medhy Metella on 49.17, Boris Steimitz on 49.91, and Nosy Pelagie on 49.98. Seven men inside 50sec in the first semi.
In the second semi, Leveaux, of Paris Racing, clocked 48.48 to take lane 4 for what will be a tight fight for the solo slots and del;ay spots tomorrow in the final. Fabien Gilot was next through in 48.74, with Grégory Mallet, celebrating his 28th birthday, clocked 48.94. Next in was his Marseilles teammate William Meynard on 49.19 - not good enough for the final, Metella's 49.17 the cut.
On 47.76 at a time of shiny suits, Leveaux celebrated a textile best today, inside a 48.59 effort in 2010. Agnel's time was 0.01sec inside his lifetime best, while Bernard looks back to 2007 for his textile best, a 48.12.
Impact on world top ranked 2012 (two per nation)
Cesar Cielo is Olympic and world 50m champion and holds the world 100m free record at 46.91 from a time of shiny suits.
There were no other qualifiers for London 2012 on the day, Jordan Coelho of Etampes Natation on 1:57.86 for victory in the 200m butterfly well ahead of the pack, silver going to Thomas Vilaceca in 2:00.24.
The 200m medley final for women left all shy of the 2:13.36 Olympic target, with Massy's Sophie de Ronchi taking the crown in 2:14.88 ahead of 400m medley winner and France team member for London 2012, Lara Grangeon, on 2:15.54, 0.36sec ahead of Adeline Martin.
In the men's 50m backstroke, world 100m champion Camille Lacourt, coached by Romain Barnier at Marseilles, clocked 24.81, and in the women's equivalent, 100m champion yesterday, Laure Manaudou, of Marseilles and Auburn, clocked a French record of 28.13 to keep Marseilles-based Dutch sprinter Femke Heemskerk at bay on 28.45. Imagine that - 2012 and Manaudou sets a French record.