Yannick Agnel
Courtesy of: Richard Maxson - USA Today Sports
CHARTRES, France, April 8. THE long course French nationals kicked off in earnest today, adding several swimmers to the team that will compete at this summer's European championships.

Yannick Agnel looked in control in the men's 400 free final, turning three seconds ahead of the field at the 300-meter mark. But Tunisia's Ahmed Mathlouthi had other plans, putting in a 56.32 final 100 to Agnel's 59.59. Agnel hung on for the win with a 3:49.65 to Mathlouthi's 3:49.85. Neither of the times crack the top 10 in the global standings, and it's barely Agnel's best swim of 2014. He had swum a 3:49.78 at the Austin Grand Prix in January. Anthony Pannier was a distant second with a 3:51.77.

The top four shaped up pretty much as expected in the semifinals of the men's 100 backstroke. Camille Lacourt topped qualifying for the final with a 53.59, with Jeremy Stravius in second with a 54.38. Eric Ress, coming off the NCAA championships for Indiana, sits third with a 55.21 ahead of Benjamin Stasiulis' 55.49. Since the European championships allows for three swimmers from each country in prelims, we'll see a strong battle for those three spots in tomorrow's final.


Eric's little sister Justine qualified first in the women's 200 back semifinal, posting a 2:14.88. Right behind her was Cloe Credeville with a 2:15.07 and Camille Gheorghiu with a 2:17.18.

Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto and France's Lara Grangeon exchanged the lead throughout the women's 400 IM final, though Verraszto got to the finish first with a 4:39.57 to Grangeon's 4:40.57. Charlotte Bonnet placed third with a 4:44.01.

The Marseille swim club captured the top four places in the men's 50 fly final to show off the team's sprint prominence, led by Florent Manaudou's 23.25. Mehdy Metella placed second with a 23.77, while Fabien Gilot (23.84) and Yoris Grandjean (24.13) took third and fourth in the final.

Three swimmers broke 1:02 in the men's 100 breast semifinals to set up an exciting final tomorrow. Thomas Dahlia posted the fastest time with a 1:01.48. Quentin Coton swam a 1:01.59 and Giacomo Dortona was third with a 1:01.63.




Results: French long course nationals, day 1