RENNES, France, April 9. THE initial evening of competition at the French Long Course Nationals featured some jaw-dropping times with Camille Muffat and Fred Bousqet both authoring world-leading times to kick off the meet.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Camille Muffat didn't waste any time this evening demonstrating her powerful freestyle stroke as she smashed the field in the women's 400-meter freestyle with a 4:04.16. That is the first swim under 4:05 this year in the event, bettering the 4:05.63 clocked by Mireia Belmonte Garcia at the Spanish Open Championships last month.
Coralie Balmy put in what would typically be considered a strong time at this point of the season with a 4:07.99, but unfortunately had her time overshadowed by Muffat's greatness. Denmark's Lotte Friis claimed third in the event with a time of 4:10.90.
Fred Bousquet provided another world-leading effort as he blasted the men's 50-meter fly with a sterling 23.00. That swim crushed the previous top time in the world this year of 23.27 from Rafael Munoz Perez from the Spanish Open Championships. Bousquet had stood third in the world with a 23.52 from the Mediterranean International Meet to start off March, but cut plenty of time this evening in the sprint fly.
Florent Manaudou, meanwhile, also cleared the previous world-leader with a second-place time of 23.14 to give France a devastating 1-2 punch in the event. Belgium's Yoris Grandjean finished third in 23.58.
Tunisia's Ahmed Mathlouthi prevailed in the men's 400-meter freestyle with a time of 3:49.06. Benoit Debast took second in 3:51.86, while Anthony Pannier claimed third in the middle distance event with a 3:51.87.
Melanie Henique raced to victory in the women's 50-meter fly with a time of 26.47, while Marie Wattel checked in with a second-place 26.56. Beryl Gastaldello rounded out the podium with a third-place 26.87. Sarah Vaisse topped the women's 50-meter breaststroke event in 32.31, while Sophie De Ronchi took second in 32.42. Fanny Babou wound up third in 32.43.
In semifinal action, Jeremy Stravius (54.37) and Camille Lacourt (54.48) set up what could be an epic battle in the men's 100-meter backstroke, while Eric Ress qualified third in 55.24. Giacomo Perez Dortona cruised to the top seed in the men's 100-meter breast with a 1:01.84. Thomas Rabeisen (1:02.50) and Thomas Dahlia (1:02.53) will bracket him in the finale.
Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto dominated the women's 200-meter back semifinals with a top time of 2:11.19, and could be gunning for the likes of Missy Franklin's world-leading effort of 2:07.31 from the Austin Grand Prix. Cloe Credeville (2:15.04) and Marie Buresi (2:16.72) qualified second and third in the distance dorsal.
Romain Magula (50.00), Axel Bouton (51.36), Gregory Mallet (49.03) and William Meynard (49.27) won the men's 400-meter free relay with a time of 3:19.66 to close out the first night of action.