France's Camille Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin in Nice, concluded her Mare Nostrum Tour with a dominant 4:03.72 victory over 400m freestyle in Monte Carlo today, the time giving her a 5th entry on the list of the top 7 best performances in the world this year.
Muffat mirrored the massive negative split exercise (2:04; 1:58 Thursday, 2:04, 1:59 today) that she first tried out in Canet midweek in an effort to test her staying power and speed on the way to battle with the likes of Federica Pellegrini and Rebecca Adlington. Today's splits:
The form guide on the way to London 2012 is far from complete, with the likes of Italian world record holder Federica Pellegrini (ITA) yet to show her rested form and the US Olympic trials due at the end of the month. Nonetheless, Muffat will arrive at the Games in Britain among title favourites for the 200m and 400m freestyle. In the 400m the best 7 so far this year reads:
Four years ago before her transition from medley to full-on freestyle focus, Muffat ended the year with the 52nd best performance of the year, her three swims that season:
If she got inside her 2008 best once in 2010, by the close of 2011, she had six performances between 4:03.23 and 4:05.70 in her book of experience.
In Monaco today, closest to Muffat were Barbara Jardin (CAN), on 4:07.50, and Bi Yirong (CHN) 4:11.08. Muffat is having a great season by when it came to the 100m, Brit sprint Fran Halsall did not have to be near best to get the better of the 200/400 specialist, holding on for a 54.26 victory over 54.40 for Muffat. Third went to Halsall's Loughborough teammate Amy Smith in 54.87
Muffat's Nice training partner Yannick Agnel ended his tour with a 1:46.58 victory in the 200m freestyle ahead of Jarrod Killey (AUS), on 1:47.95, and Alex Di Giorgio (ITA), on 1:48.36.
Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) ended her tour on a solid note, winning the 100m and 200m this weekend. Over 200m it was 2:09.10 and over 100m, the speed improving, 1:00.24 ahead of Sinead Russell (CAN), 1:00.74, and Karin Prinsloo (RSA), on 1:00.95 in the principality that will host her and South African teammates in the run-up to London 2012 courtesy of the connection to Chalene Wittstock, former South African national team member who set a career best of 1:02.24 over 100m backstroke back in 2002 and is now the Princess of Monaco.
The men's 200m backstroke went to Darren Murray (RSA), 2:00.28, with Joseph Patching, racing for Plymouth Leander in England, on 2:00.60, with Tobias Oriwol (CAN) 0.02sec away. Patching, in his 18th year, was close to his best of 2:00.52 set at Olympic trials in March and will now head to last-chance Olympic trials in Sheffield this month with a chance of making the grade in an event for which Britain has no qualifiers so far.
In other events, the women's 200m butterfly went to Audrey Lacroix (CAN) in 2:10.56; the 200m medley to He Yuzhe (CHN) in 2:13.91; Iceland's Jakob Sveinsson took the 100m breaststroke in 1:02.90, Joline Hostman (SWE) clocked 2:26.83 to win the 200m breaststroke, while Chad Le Clos (RSA) took another brace, winning the 100m butterfly in 52.43 ahead of Clément Lefert (FRA),53.14, and Piero Codia (ITA), 53.33, and the 400m medley in 4:21.39.
The freestyle dash head-to-head finals came down to a victory for Andrey Grechin (RUS) over Alan Bernard (FRA) 22.23 to 22.32, and Therese Alshammar (SWE) over Fran Halsall (GBR) 24.76 to 24.92.
The Tour top prizes go to Alshammar and Treffers, the Princess of Monaco to present the awards at the traditional banquet in Monaco this evening, the Monagasque swim federation figurehead, Prince Albert unable to attend owing to prior commitments.