The second day of action at the Meeting International de la Méditérranée in Marseilles delivered a thumbs up for the new partnership of sprinter Francesca Halsall (GBR and Loughborough) and her coach and former world 50m breaststroke champion James GIbson.
Halsall got the finals session underway today with a dominant 58.37 victory in the 100m butterfly and returned to the fray not long after for a 24.91 triumph in the 50m freestyle. Halsall's is the second sub-25sec swim this year, after Australia Cate Campbell, while her 'fly effort takes her to the helm of the early 2013 world rankings.
The men's freestyle dash saw Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian (USA) take an early season scalp: in 21.75 he stopped the clock 0.08sec ahead of Olympic 50m champion and local hero for the hosts Florent Manaudou. The 2000 Olympic 50m champion and 2001 world 50m and 100m champion Anthony Ervin (USA) clocked 22.01 for third, with Fred Bousquet, Marseilles, fourth in 22.14.
Both Manaudou and Adrian have gone a touch quicker this season, the Frenchman on 21.62 last month and the American on 21.70 in January.
In Halsall's clashes, Spain teammates Judit Ignacio and Mireia Belmonte came home closest to the winner in the 100m 'fly, on 1:00.40 and 1:01.00 respectively, while former Olympic and world 100m backstroke champion Natalie Coughlin (USA) splits the Brits in the dash, on 25.52, to 25.72 for Amy Smith, Halsall's Loughborough teammate.
Halsall recently returned home from a camp in Thailand with the Loughborough squad where the sprint programme is in Gibson's hands. The 2003 world champion turned coach moved back to Britain from France in the wake of guiding Manaudou to the Olympic sprint crown at London 2012.
Belmonte, meanwhile, returned to the victory trail later in the session in Marseilles with a 4:09.23 effort in the 400m freestyle that kept at bay world short-course champion and Spain teammate Melanie Costa, on 4:10.35. Third, to Claudia Dasca in 4:17.19, fourth and fifth also went to Spain. As did the men's 400m final, Marc Sanchez on 3:56.53.
In other action, the men's 100m butterfly went to Konrad Czerniak (POL) in 53.19 ahead of Spain's Rafa Munoz, on 53.86 (in a final that saw Camille Lacourt, Marseilles, disqualified because he broke his stroke while trying to cope with a problem he had with his goggles); Giacomo Dortona, Marseilles, took the men's breaststroke dash in 27.80 ahead of a 28.11 for Francesco Di Lecci, of Italian club Rari Nantes Torino; while the women's equivalent went to Marina Garcia (ESP) in 32.37.
Cloé Credeville, of French club Nantes, outreached Melanie Costa (ESP) 2:13.06 to 2:13.42 in the 200m backstroke, while the men;'s equivalent went to Halsall's teammate at Loughborough, Liam Tancock, the 50m world record holder making his mark in a rare 200m race on 2:02.77. The 200m medley finals went to Spain's Beatriz Gomez in 2:14.98 and Albert Puig in 2:03.59.
The meet, in its second year, concludes tomorrow evening.