CHARTRES, France, April 8. THE long course French nationals kicked off in earnest today, adding several swimmers to the team that will compete at this summerâ€™s European championships.
Yannick Agnel looked in control in the menâ€™s 400 free final, turning three seconds ahead of the field at the 300-meter mark. But Tunisiaâ€™s Ahmed Mathlouthi had other plans, putting in a 56.32 final 100 to Agnelâ€™s 59.59. Agnel hung on for the win with a 3:49.65 to Mathlouthiâ€™s 3:49.85. Neither of the times crack the top 10 in the global standings, and itâ€™s barely Agnelâ€™s best swim of 2014. He had swum a 3:49.78 at the Austin Grand Prix in January. Anthony Pannier was a distant second with a 3:51.77.
The top four shaped up pretty much as expected in the semifinals of the menâ€™s 100 backstroke. Camille Lacourt topped qualifying for the final with a 53.59, with Jeremy Stravius in second with a 54.38. Eric Ress, coming off the NCAA championships for Indiana, sits third with a 55.21 ahead of Benjamin Stasiulisâ€™ 55.49. Since the European championships allows for three swimmers from each country in prelims, weâ€™ll see a strong battle for those three spots in tomorrowâ€™s final.
Ericâ€™s little sister Justine qualified first in the womenâ€™s 200 back semifinal, posting a 2:14.88. Right behind her was Cloe Credeville with a 2:15.07 and Camille Gheorghiu with a 2:17.18.
Hungaryâ€™s Evelyn Verraszto and Franceâ€™s Lara Grangeon exchanged the lead throughout the womenâ€™s 400 IM final, though Verraszto got to the finish first with a 4:39.57 to Grangeonâ€™s 4:40.57. Charlotte Bonnet placed third with a 4:44.01.
The Marseille swim club captured the top four places in the menâ€™s 50 fly final to show off the teamâ€™s sprint prominence, led by Florent Manaudouâ€™s 23.25. Mehdy Metella placed second with a 23.77, while Fabien Gilot (23.84) and Yoris Grandjean (24.13) took third and fourth in the final.
Three swimmers broke 1:02 in the menâ€™s 100 breast semifinals to set up an exciting final tomorrow. Thomas Dahlia posted the fastest time with a 1:01.48. Quentin Coton swam a 1:01.59 and Giacomo Dortona was third with a 1:01.63.