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Muffat Mauls Field With Pioneering 53.9

Mar 24, 2011  - Craig Lord

French nationals, Strasbourg: day 2 finals

Camille Muffat and Fred Bousquet led the charge among French swimmers in pursuit of medals at world titles in Shanghai this July as they booked tickets to China with impressive efforts at nationals in Strasbourg.

Muffat became the first Frenchwoman in a textile suit to crack 54sec in the 100m freestyle as she practised the speed she will need if she wishes to convert her 200m world s/c title to gold in the big pond this summer. Having finished top Frenchwoman in the 800m free on day 1 of nationals, Muffat looks set to scoop all freestyle titles from 100m to 800m. In 2006, Laure Manaudou claimed all crowns from 200m to 1,500m.

The 2004 Olympic and 2007 double world champion had a role to play today too: handing out the medals to Bousquet and Co after her beau clocked 21.82 in the freestyle dash to keep Alain Bernard at bay, the two top French sprinters becoming the first men inside 22sec this season. There in the stands with mum was Laure and Fred's one-year-old, Manon.  Speaking to reporters in Strasbourg, Bousquet described retaining his crown as "a relief and huge satisfaction".

Race reports

Women's 100m freestyle

Camille Muffat, world 200m free short-course champion, became the first Frenchwoman to crack 54sec in a textile suit when she trounced her rivals with a 53.97sec victory.

At a meet where she has opted to bypass the 200m medley she usually races in order to focus on freestyle events, Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin at Nice, was out in 26.45 and home in 27.52 for her first sub-54sec effort.

The time, second-best in the world so far this year,  compares to efforts of 53.70 and 54.00 for Dutch sprinters Femke Heemskerk and Ranomi Kromowidjojo in Amsterdam last week. 

The French record of 53.49 was set by Malia Metella in 2009, while Muffat's new best matches the second-best French effort ever, established by Celine Couderc when she led Gaul's 4x100m relay off at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Metella, on 53.99 at French Olympic trials in 2008, was the first Frenchwoman to break 54sec, at the start of the 23-month era of non-textile suits that were banned from January 1, 2010.

If Muffat is going from strength to strength, the future at Nice looks nice too: the silver in Strasbourg went to the champion's training partner Charlotte Bonnet, 16 this year and on 55.34 ahead of bronze medallist Mylène Lazare, of Sarcelles, on 55.76.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 55.79; 55.98; 56.09
  • 2011 podium: 53.97; 55.34; 55.76
  • FRA record all suits: 53.49 Malia Metella 2009
  • FRA textile best: 53.97 (54.36, Jan, 2011) Camille Muffat 2011

Best FRA podium result at world titles: silver, twice: at Perth 1998, Catherine Plewinski clocked 55.31 behind champion Nicole Haislett (USA),on 55.17; and in Montreal in 2005, Olympic champion Jodie Henry (AUS), on 54.18, kept at bay joint silver medallists Malia Metella and Natalie Coughlin (USA), on 54.74.

Men's 50m freestyle

Fred Bousquet retained pride and the crown in a 21.82 blast that kept him 0.16sec ahead of Olympic 100m champion Alain Bernard, on 21.98, while bronze went to Fabien Gilot in 22.09. France now boasts the swiftest three men in the world so far this year, with Bousquet and Bernard the only two inside 22sec easily in the season.

The times are closely in line with events from a year, ago, when Bousquet claimed the title in 21.71 on his way to a season world best of 21.36 and the European crown not far off that at Budapest last summer. 

Bousquet, coached by Brett Hawke at Auburn when not home in Marseilles, has let his federation know this week that he is unhappy over France's decision not to select Hawke as a team coach for the two big meets this year and next, the Shanghai 2011 world titles and the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

The race went without Amaury Leveaux, the Rome 2009 bronze medallist behind Bousquet when another of Hawke's pupils took the crown, Cesar Cielo (BRA). Leveaux did not show for heats this morning.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 21.71; 21.97; 22.08
  • 2011 podium: 21.82; 21.98; 22.09
  • FRA record all suits: 20.94 Frederick Bousquet 2009
  • FRA textile best: 21.36 Bousquet 2010 

Best FRA podium result at world titles: Rome 2009 marked the first time France reached the podium since the 1986 inaugural final - and Gaul made it two in one go, with silver from Fred Bousquet and bronze for Amaury Leveaux.

Women's 50m breaststroke

Danish visitor Rikke Moller Pedersen claimed victory in 31.85 just 0.07sec ahead of the same rival who came closest to her over 100m yesterday, Massy's Sophie De Ronchi, on 31.92. The bronze was just 0.1sec away, Fanny Babou, of St-Esteve, on 32.02, which locked out De Ronchi's training partner Coralie Dobral, on 32.28. De Ronchi became the first Frenchwoman to race inside 1:08 over 100m yesterday.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 32.41; 32.49; 32.65
  • 2011 podium: 31.85 DEN; 31.92; 32.02; 32.28
  • FRA record all suits: 30.96 Sophie De Ronchi 2009
  • FRA textile best: 31.68 Anne-S Le Paranthoen 2007  

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals

Men's 200m breaststroke

Olympic, world and European medal winner, Hugues Duboscq was a class apart as he confirmed his status as France's top breaststroke ace for yet another year. In 2:11.99, Duboscq, coached at Le Havre by Christos Paparrodopoulos, kept at bay a man about to leave his teenage years behind, William Debourges, of Cannes, on 2:14.73, and Massy's Thibault Marand, on 2:15.00.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 2:12.38; 2:13.52 GBR; 2:15.11; 2:16.46
  • 2011 podium: 2:11.99; 2:14.73; 2:15.00
  • FRA record all suits: 2:08.94 Hugues Duboscq
  • FRA textile best: 2:09.85 Duboscq 2008 

Best FRA podium result at world titles: silver, at Perth 1998, when Jean Sarnin, on 2:13.42, was 0.02sec adrift Kurt Grote (USA) and 0.17sec ahead of Norbert Rosza (HUN), the defending champion.

Women's 200m medley

Marseilles-based Femke Heemskerk (NED) will doubtless be thankful for her fingernails this evening after taking the short medley crown by 0.01sec ahead of Lara Grangeon, of Caledoniens, 2:13.13 to 2:13.14. The bronze went to a woman whas still breathless from missing gold by 0.07sec in the previous race, Sophie De Ronchi, of Massy, on 2:16.46.

Heemskerk had the edge on Grangeon over the first 200m, before the French challenger rocketed ahead on breaststroke, only to find the swiftest 100m freestyler in the world so far this year hit back on the way home.

The splits:

  • Heemskerk: 28.93; 1:01.85; 1:42.80; 2:13.13
  • Grangeon:  29.09; 1:02.42; 1:41.85; 2:13.14

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 2:10.48; 2:14.20; 2:15.23
  • 2011 podium: 2:13.13 (NED); 2:13.14; 2:16.46
  • FRA record all suits: 2:09.37 Camille Muffat 2009
  • FRA textile best: 2:10.48 Muffat 2010 

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals

Men's 400m medley 

Back from a steroid doping ban last year, Ioannis Drymonakos (GRE) clocked 4:16.67 to win the race. The best of France was Arnaud Rondan, of Nimes, in 4:20.48 ahead of Ganesh Pedrrand, of Toulouse, on 4:23.98, with Quentin Coton, of Antibes, on 4:25.08. The French record holder Anthony Pannier, of Lyon, was back in 7th on 4:28.06.

How they measure up: 

  • 2010 podium: 4:17.75; 4:21.61; 4:25.35
  • 2011 podium: 4:16.67 GRE; 4:20.48; 4:23.98; 4:25.08 
  • FRA record all suits: 4:16.97 Anthony Pannier 2009
  • FRA textile best: 4:16.99 Sebastien Rouault 2007

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals