French Nationals Day 2: Two National Marks Fall

CHAMALIERES, FRANCE, May 1. A PAIR of national records in the women's 400 meter freestyle and the men's 400 meter individual medley were the highlights of Day 2 of the French Spring Championships-World Championship Trials here today.

On the women's side, 17-year-old Alicia Bozon, who had never been under 4:15 before, stopped the timing system in a pr and NR 4:12.06. The old French record was a 4:12.76 by Cecile Prunier from the 1988 Olympic Trials in Dunquerque.

Bozon's time is equal to the third-fastest performance of the year. Russia's Irina Oufimtseva ranks No. 1 with her 4:11.42 from the Moscow Cup/Russian Nationals last month, while numbers 2 and 3 are Americans Diana Munz (4:11.63) and first-time national team member Ashley Chander (4:12.06). Both of these latter times were done in Austin the end of March during the U.S. World Championship Trials meet.

Fifth on the yearly list is USC-bound El Toro High senior Kaitlin Sandeno, who's 4:12.09 was only .03 behind winner Chandler. However, shed no tears for the talented future Trojan as she made the World Championship team in the 200 fly, 800 free and the 400 IM, and was an Olympian last year.

Her final prep competition will be next weekend at the CIF Southern Section Championships in Long Beach's Belmont Plaza Pool and she'll be after Janet Evans' 500-yard freestyle record that's lasted since 1988.

Evans, of course, won three golds and set a pair of world records (400-800 frees) that September at the Seoul Olympics, then swam for Stanford for a couple of years. She still holds the American-NCAA record in this race (4:34.39) from the 1990 collegiate championships and also the world 400-800 free standards. Sandeno's 500 pr is 4:39.09 from the Speedo Championship Meet at Belmont in early March.

The men's 400 IM record went to 400 free runner-up Nicolas Rostoucher, who clocked 4:19.72. He had never been under 4:24 before, so the time represents a significant drop for the 20-year-old Frenchman. The old record was 4:20.50 by Johan LeBihan from last summer's European Championships in Helsinki, but he was not in today's race.

And talk about cutting things close. The qualifying time for the World Championships is 4:19.73!

OTHER FINALS
The other women's final was the 100 fly where Malia Metella won in a pr 1:01.29 to Diane Bui Duyet's 1:02.11.

On the men's side the second individual final was the 100 breast, where Hugues Duboscq won in 1:02.90 — slower than his 1:02.78 from the semis. His pr is 1:02.40 from the Sydney prelims. Third in 1:03.36 was national record-holder Jean-Christophe Sarnin, whose best is a 1:01.72 from the World Military Championships in August of 1999 at Zagreb.

SEMIFINALS
In the men's 200 free semis, Dutch Olympic champ Pieter van den Hoogenband was top qualifier at 1:49.33, more than two-and-a-half seconds over the top Frenchman (18-year-old Guy Noel Schmitt's 1:51.88). Hoogie's seasonal best is that 1:47.54 from Glasgow in mid-March and his pr and European-Olympic record is 1:45.35.

Is Aussie Ian Thorpe's recent 1:44.69 global standard in danger? Probably not in May in France but come July in Fukuoka…THAT could be a race for the ages!

Seventeen year-old Pierre Roger won the second semi of the men's 100m backstroke in 56.52. Simon Dufour was close behind at 56.84.

Rosanna Maracineanu, 1998 world champion in the 200m back, easily posted the fastest semifinal time in the women's 100m back, 1:02.41–some two-and-a-half seconds faster than her nearest pursuer.

Anne Sophie Le Paranthoen had the fastest semifinal time in the women's 100m breaststroke, as she won the second heat in 1:10.93. The first heat was taken by Romania's Beatrice Coada-Caslaru in 1:11.48.

–Bill Bell

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AWAKEN THE OLYMPIAN WITHIN, by John Naber

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