By John Lohn
NANCY, France, April 18. WHEN the French Nationals started last week, there was no questing that Laure Manaudou was the premier female swimmer at the competition. Yet, she still went out of her way to solidify that status.
On the final night of the event, Manaudou added titles in the 1,500 freestyle and 100 backstroke, posting impressive triumphs in each discipline. After lowering her own French record in the metric mile (16:16.18), Manaudou claimed the 100 back crown in 1:01.26, easily ahead of the 1:01.75 turned in by Alexandra Putra.
A triple-medalist at last summer’s Athens Olympics, Manaudou finished the French Championships with five gold medals and a pair of second-place finishes. Aside from the 1,500 free and 100 back, she bested the field in the 50 back, 400 free and 800 free. Her silver-medal showings arrived in the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
Manaudou, though, wasn’t the only athlete to add to a championship haul. En route to winning the 50 breaststroke in a championship-record mark of 28.19, Hugues Duboscq handed himself a trifecta in the breast events. In the women’s 50 breast, the title went to Camille Muffat in 32.90.
In the men’s 1,500 free, Sebastien Rouault hit the wall first in 15:14.95 and defeated Nicolas Rostoucher, the national-record holder. As for the 100 back, Pierre Roger prevailed in 56.07, followed by Simon DuFour in 56.68.