MARSEILLE, France, March 3. THE Marseille Grand Prix came to an end with some of the big stars putting on a show in France.
Britain's Fran Halsall put on a show in the women's 100-meter freestyle, racing her way to a sprint freestyle sweep. She clipped American Natalie Coughlin at the wall, 54.61 to 54.79 as the two turn simultaneously with 26.39 front-end splits. Spain's Patricia Castro Ortega earned third in 56.07. While Halsall ranks fourth all time with a sizzling 52.87 from the 2009 FINA World Championships, Coughlin finished just a second-and-a-half off her 14th-ranked top time of 53.39 from back in 2008.
Halsall doubled up with another triumph ahead of Coughlin. This time, Halsall clocked a 26.91 to win the women's 50-meter fly, while Coughlin earned second in 27.42. Britain's Amy Smith wound up third in 27.73. Halsall's top time is a 26.24 from the 2012 Commonwealth Games, while Coughlin went a 26.50 in the 2005 World Championships.
In another start-studded affair, Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian charted a scintillating 48.11 to win the men's 100-meter free. That's about a half-a-second off his 10th-ranked best time ever of 47.52 from the 2012 London Olympics. Compatriot Anthony Ervin, meanwhile, placed second in 49.08. His best time ever is a 48.33 from the 2001 World Championships. Those top times aren't bad considering the in-season nature of this event. France's Gregory Mallet placed third in 49.31.
France's Florent Manaudou touched out compatriot Fred Bousquet by the slimmest of margins in the men's 50-meter fly, 23.51 to 23.52. Manaudou nearly picked off his lifetime best of 23.31 from the 2011 World Championships. Bousquet, meanwhile, has a fifth-ranked 22.84 from 2008 on his resume. Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez finished third in 24.02.
Spain's Mireia Belmont Garcia claimed her fourth title of the meet with a 16:17.80 in the women's 1500-meter free. Her compatriots Melanie Costa Schmid (16:29.27), Claudia Dasca Romeu (16:40.06) and Maria Vilas Vidal (17:06.96) rounded out the top four. Spain's Marc Sanchez Torrens followed with an 8:12.26 to win the men's 800-meter free. France's Xavier Lepretre touched second in 8:22.26, while Italy's Luca Pancari earned third in 8:28.68.
Spain's Marina Garcia Urzainqui topped the women's 200-meter breast event in 2:27.89, while Italy's Elisa Celli touched second in 2:28.79. Spain's Beatriz Gomez Cortes placed third in 2:30.50. France's Giacomo Perez Dortona snared the men's 200-meter breaststroke title in 2:15.43. Italy's Francesco Di Lecce (2:16.84) and Vittorio Coloretti (2:19.43) completed the podium with second and third-place efforts.
Spain's Mercedes Peris Minguet rolled to a 1:00.81 to win the women's 100-meter backstroke finale. Meanwhile, France's Cloe Credeville touched second in 1:01.49, while Spain's Melanie Costa Schmid picked up third-place honors in 1:03.54. Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer Faber then turned in a 54.67 to win the men's 100-meter back. Britain's Liam Tancock took second in 55.19, while Spain's Juan Miguel Rando Galvez placed third in 55.47.