MONTPELLIER, France, April 24. AFTER Alain Bernard provided some fireworks yesterday with a world record of 46.94 in the men's 100 free, the buzz on deck was that the record may go down again in finals.
Fred Bousquet nearly accomplished the feat, but came up just short with a winning time of 47.15. Alain Bernard settled for second in 47.51, while William Meynard grabbed third in 47.77. Amaury Leveaux slipped to fourth (48.17), while Fabien Gilot was just behind in 48.18. The French are looking for revenge on the Americans in the 400 free relay at this summer's World Championships, and appear to be in a strong position to do that.
In the women's 100 free, Olympian Malia Metella surged ahead of the field to establish a new national record of 53.49 in the event, slicing nearly half a second off the old mark. Celine Couderc held the previous national record of 53.97, which she set last year. Aurore Mongrel grabbed second in 54.66, while Hanna Shcherba Lorgeril rounded out the podium with a time of 55.32.
Cloe Credeville will occupy the top lane in tomorrow night's final of the women's 200 back after posting the fastest semifinal time of 2:09.62. She'll be closely pursued by Alexianne Castel (2:10.16) and University of Georgia standout Alexandra Putra (2:10.22). Esther Baron (2:13.55), Marion Blanchard (2:14.46), Sharon van Rouwendaal (2:15.75), Marie Jugnet (2:16.87) and Justine Ress (2:19.24) will round out the rest of tomorrow evening's championship final.
Pierre Roger took down a longstanding French national record in the men's 200 back, winning the second semifinal in 1:56.64. That time eclipsed Simon Dufour's record of 1:57.90, set at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona. Benjamin Stasiulis and Eric Ress were the only other men under 2:00, turning in times of 1:59.08 and 1:59.57 to qualify second and third, respectively.
Romania's Camelia Potec continued her strong meet with a victory in the women's 400 free. After posting a preliminary time of 8:16.70 in the 800 yesterday, Potec ripped a time of 4:03.50 today. That time was just off of Laure Manadou's meet record of 4:03.03 from 2006. Coralie Baumy touched just behind in 4:04.96, while Camille Muffat snuck in for third with a 4:06.13.
Nicolas Rostoucher claimed the second national record of the evening, bettering his own 2006 mark of 3:47.04 in the men's 400 free with a 3:46.28. Ahmed Mathlouthi of Tunisia finished just behind in 3:47.05, while Anthony Pannier notched a third-place time of 3:49.55.
Tomorrow's final of the women's 100 fly should be a closely contested race, as five swimmers went under 1:00 in the two semifinals. Sweden's Gabriella Fagundez led the way with a 58.73, with Aurore Mongrel just .06 behind in 58.79. Mongrel will be chasing her own French record of 58.30 in finals. Magali Rousseau will occupy the third position with a 59.42, followed by Lea Giraudon (59.84) and Diane Bui Duyet (59.98). Melanie Henique, Lise Soule and Natacha Mauz will round out the remainder of the heat.
Fresh off a new world record in the 50 fly, Spaniard Rafael Munoz Perez put the hammer down in the 100, barreling to a time of 50.85 in the first semifinal. His time was less than 3-tenths off his own European record of 50.58 from three weeks ago. Clement Lefert qualified second in 51.50, which tied the French national record, set by Fred Bousquet last April. Romain Sassot (52.76) and Francois Heersbrandt grabbed fourth and fifth in 52.76 and 52.94, respectively.
Sophie De Ronchi established herself as the fastest Frenchwoman ever in the women's 200 breast, winning the event in 2:25.19. That time obliterated the old record of 2:27.12, set by Karine Bremond at the 2000 Olympic Games. Sara El Bekri finished second in 2:26:65, and Coralie Dobral also swam under the old record with a third-place effort of 2:26.71. Fanny Babou came in under the old time as well with a 2:27.00 for fourth.
No swimmers threatened Hugues Duboscq's French record of 2:08.94 in the men's 200 breast, but it may have been one of the most exciting races of the evening. Tony de Pellegrini touched first in 2:11.42, and was closely followed by Kristopher Gilchrist (2:12.08), Thibault Marand (2:12.12) and Fabien Horth (2:12.52).
Prelims of the men's and women's 4×100 freestyle relays closed out the evening. On the women's side, Dauphins Toulouse OEC claimed the top seed in 3:45.34, followed by CS Clichy 92 (3:49.93) and Stade Francais O Courbevoie (3:54.12). For the men, CN Marseille posted the fastest qualifying time at 3:15.70, with Lagardere Paris Racing taking the second spot in 3:17.37 and CS Clichy 92 third in 3:21.99.