SAINT RAPHAEL, France, April 15. EVERY year, the French male sprinters seem to put on a show, especially at their own national championships. The French Long Course Nationals this year have been no different, as the men's 100 free witnessed some incredible times.
Alain Bernard clocked a world best in the men's 100 free with a sterling time of 48.32 during semifinals of the event. The performance cleared the previous top time in the world this year of 48.52 set by Eamon Sullivan last month. Fabien Gilot, meanwhile, moved to fourth in the world rankings with a 48.62 to qualify second, while William Meynard (48.79) and Yannick Agnel (48.99) also broke 49 seconds in the semifinal round. In sum, only eight men have cleared 49 seconds this year and now four of them are from France with a final heat still to come.
Camille Lacourt claimed the men's 50 back title in 24.87, ranked third in the world this year behind only Liam Tancock (24.52) and Matt Grevers (24.72). Jeremy Stravius finished second in 25.41, while Benjamin Stasiulis took third in 25.68.
Camille Muffat raced to the top qualifying time out of the semifinals in the women's 200 IM. She clocked a swift 2:10.94, just a second-and-a-half off her national record of 2:09.37. Her performance jumped her to fourth in the world this year, behind only Stephanie Rice (2:10.07), Ariana Kukors (2:10.34) and Emily Seebohm (2:10.75). Consequently, only four swimmers have broken 2:10 in the event this year. Lara Grangeon qualified second in 2:13.38.
Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne won the women's 800 free in 8:33.91, while Grainne Murphy of Ireland finished second overall in 8:45.04. Camille Sere grabbed third in 8:45.57. Aurore Mongel claimed the women's 200 fly crown in 2:09.05. Kim Vandenberg of the U.S. touched second in 2:10.68, while Lara Grangeon earned third in 2:11.52.
Portugal's Diogo Carvalho wound up on top of the men's 200 IM in 2:02.93. Arnaud Rondan (2:03.98) and Ganesh Pedurand (2:04.16) placed second and third overall. Coralie Balmy followed in the women's 100 free with a winning time of 55.79. Etienne demonstrated some range with a second-place 55.98, while Angela Tavernier finished third in 56.09. Alena Alekseeva of Russian touched out Coralie Dobral, 1:09.73 to 1:09.75, for the women's 100 breast title. Fanny Babou touched just behind with a third-place 1:09.87.
Hugues Duboscq earned the top seed in the men's 200 breast finale with a 2:12.25 during semis. Kristhopher Gilchrist qualified second in 2:13.62 out of the first semifinal. Alexianne Castel paced the women's 100 back semis in 1:00.87, while Alexandra Putra qualified second in 1:01.75. Pierre Roger clocked a 1:58.98 for the top men's 200 fly time in semis, while Nuno Quintanilha (1:59.14) and Christophe Lebon (1:59.23) qualified second and third.