A day after knocking six bells out of the 800m freestyle world short-course record in 8:01, Camille Muffat swam at the same pace to win the French 400m crown in 3:59.38 at Angers.
After the 800m and a 3:54.93 victory at the Berlin round of the World Cup last month, expectations were high for Muffat to get within the 3:54.92 at which the world mark has stood to Britain's Joanne Jackson since 2009's last flush of shiny suits.
It was not to be today in Angers, the better guide that of "expected the unexpected" when it comes to knowing when and in what circumstances Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin in Nice, will fire on all cylinders: Danish visitor Lotte Friis took the race out in 57.71 and 1:58.76, Muffat trailing on 58.39 and 1:59.50. By the 300m mark, the local favourite had taken charge in 2:59.90, 0.13sec up on Friis, before cracking on for victory, the Dane settling for silver in 4:01.07. Coralie Balmy claimed third place in 4:02.13.
There are bigger battles ahead, in Chartres at the European s/c champs next week, and then Istanbul for the world s/c champs next month.
No other swimmer has broken 4mins this season, while the swiftest since the ban on shiny suits from January 1, 2010, had been the 3:56.39 clocked by Spain's Mireia Belmonte at the European short-course championships last year.
The all-time top 10 in textile:
In the heats of the 50m breaststroke, Olympic 50m freestyle champion Florent Manaudou showed off alternative skills with a 27.06 French national championship record, 0.03sec inside the standard that had stood to Olympic medallist Hugues Duboscq. In the final, Manaudou clobbered the standard down to 26.39. In the 1500m free, Anthony Pannier set a championship record of 14:38.32.