Muffat: 8:23 (4:18, 4:04) 800 & 1:56 200
Jul 6, 2012 - Craig Lord
Just over 5 minutes after an 8:23.60 win in the 800m free at the EDF Paris Open, Camille Muffat thumped her rivals in the 200m freestyle with a 1:56.21 effort, the pace of her "training" suggesting that those who stand in her way at London 2012 at the end of the month are going to have a tricky time.
In the 800m, Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin at Nice, beat Olympic teammate Coralie Balmy, 8:28.66, and France-based Romanian Camelia Potec, on 8:33.73. But it was not victory that caught the attention but the manner in which she achieved it: on 4:18.78 at half-way, she came home inside 4:05.
The message is clear: come at me with what you've got but on the way home I can muster killer speed good enough to roll over you. Good theory. Interesting to see how it translates to Olympic practice in London three weeks from now.
The men's 50m 'fly out of the way, Muffat was back to rattle Patricia Castro (ESP), on 1:59.34, and Silke Lippok (GER), 1:59.59, in the 200m. On the cusp of taper, such swimmers must wonder at the approach of Muffat to the big meet, her consistency of speed throughout the season a thing of wonder.
Muffat brought her 800m back home with a last 50m of 29.89. When Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington clocked 8:17.51 for the 800m world title a year ago she closed with a 28.91. In Beijing in 2008 over 400m and Shanghai in 2011 over 800m, the last 50m what folk had left in their tanks was truly decisive.
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Muffat's teammate was not on quite the same sizzling trajectory in Paris, on 3:51.97 for a comfortable win in the 400m freestyle ahead of the 100m free final at the end of the session.
There were no fireworks in the two-lap race but Agnel kept his hand ahead, on 49.08, with teammate Jeremy Stravius on 49.26, Matt Targett (AUS) on 49.38, and more might of Gaul close behind, Fabien Gilot on 49.42, Alain Bernard, the Olympic champion who will not (cannot) defend his crown, on 49.59.
Targett had already claimed a win of his own. In a tight dash 'fly final, the Australian got his hand to the wall first in 23.51, 0.01sec ahead of Fred Bousquet, racing for France but not "France Olympique", having missed the London 2012 cut at trials. Third went to German national teamster Steffen Deibler, 23.79, ahead of ADN Project training partners Jason Dunford (KEN), 23.88, and Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS), 23.94.
Among the stronger performances on the day was a 2:11.24 win in the 200m breaststroke for Britain's Michael Jamieson. Next home were Slawomir Kuczko (POL) and Giedrius Titenis (LTU), on 2:13.71 and 2:13.76 respectively.
In other action, Olympic silver medallist in 2008 between Mssrs Phelps and Lochte, Laszlo Cseh (HUN) clocked 4:13.40 in the 400m medley to keep Italian Luca Marin and a 4:16.59 at bay.
Inge Dekker (NED) ran away with the 100m butterfly in 58.37 ahead of Germany's Alexandra Wenk, 59.65. Dekker was back in later for third in the freestyle dash, on 25.06, the race won by Dutch teammate Marleen Veldhuis, 24.54, with world champion Therese Alshammar (SWE) on 24.84.
World champion Camille Lacourt, with that 52.08 of Matt Grevers at US trials last week, doubtless in view, took the 100m back in 54.89 ahead of Frennch Olympic teammate Benjamin Stasiulis, 55.38, and Helge Meeuw, 55.47.
Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) took the breaststroke dash in 27.73 ahead of Giacomo Perez Dortona (FRA), 27.77, and Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA), 27.86. In the 100m breaststroke, Sarah Poewe kept German teammate Caroline Ruhnau at bay 1:08.60 to 1:09.04.
In the women's backstroke dash, Anastasia Zueva (RUS) stayed ahead of Laure Manaudou, 28.56 and warming up for Olympic action for France eight years after claiming the 400m freestyle crown in Athens. Third was Sophie Edington (AUS) in 29.05.
After Jordan Coelho (FRA) took the 200m butterfly in the sole sub-2min effort of the final, a 1:58.86, Olympic silver medallist Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) hinted at a return to form in time for a third Games campaign, on 2:13.60 in the 200m medley ahead of Suane Da Rocha (ESP), on 2:15.29.
That was just a warm up for the 200m backstroke, the event in which Coventry has won the past two Olympic titles. A tough call awaits in the form of Missy Franklin but Coventry will be competitive. In a blanket finished today she took the race in 2:10.10 ahead of Zueva, 2:10.36, Duane Da Rocha (ESP), 2:10.60, and France's Alexianne Castel, on 2:10.77.