SAINT RAPHAEL, France, June 27. PARTIALLY in light of the 48.12 effort produced by Alain Bernard in the 100 freestyle at the French Championships, it can be suggested that France will be the leading contender for the silver medal at next year's Olympic Games in Beijing. At the World Championships earlier this year in Melbourne, France earned the bronze medal in 3:14.68.
During the World Champs, the quartet of Fabien Gilot (49.18), Fred Bousquet (48.48), Julien Sicot (48.84) and Bernard (48.18) finished just behind Italy, which took silver in 3:14.04. There's no doubt that the French can get faster, as Bernard now ranks as the second-fastest man in history and with Gilot having gone sub-49 at the French Champs. Meanwhile, Bousquet has the ability to go faster than his split from Melbourne, as has been the case previously.
Amaury Leveaux has the potential to be the fourth member of the relay and was fourth in the 100 free at the French Champs. No, France is unlikely to put together a strong enough squad to rival the United States, but a run at a silver medal and a sub-3:13 is not out of the question.