SAINT RAPHAEL, France, June 24. A new name can be added to the gold-medal mix in the 50-meter freestyle for next year's Olympic Games after France's Alain Bernard scorched to a time of 21.76 at the French Championships on Sunday. The time is a French record and ranks as the third-fastest in history, tied with Gary Hall Jr.
Bernard's time shattered the former national standard of 21.99, set by Auburn University product Fred Bousquet. Bernard recently had a strong showing at the Mare Nostrum Series, including a national record in the 100 free, but producing one of history's fastest times in the 50 free wasn't exactly expected. Russian great Alex Popov holds the world record of 21.64, although that time was posted in a time trial.
In the women's 800 free, Laure Manaudou made her return to France with a victory in 8:31.26. The silver medalist in the event from the World Championships in Melbourne earlier this year, Manaudou recently shifted her training to Italy. On the male side, Sebastien Rouault clocked a solid 7:52.26 to grab gold. Meanwhile, Aurore Mongel was the winner of the 200 butterfly in 2:10.63 and Malia Metella prevailed in the 50 free in 25.21.