By Fred Vergnoux
DUNKERQUE, France, April 21. WITH a new French record in the 200 freestyle, Solenne Figues of Toulouse placed herself among the top contenders for the 200 in Athens.
Romain Barnier from Antibes was the only swimmer under the Olympic qualifying time in the 100 free, but he needs to finish in the top two in the finalto confirm his ‘visa’. The French team now has nine swimmers qualified so far for the Olympic Games.
Women 200 freestyle (final)
Solenne Figues improved her french record by 0.58 seconds. With a 1.58.36, she ranks fourth in the world and has been selected for Athens. Second was Celine Couderc from Ales in 2.01.91, third was Katarin Quennelec from Brest in 2.01.95. The women's 4×200 freestyle relay team will swim in Madrid and from there probably in Athens.
Men 200 fly (final)
With the withdrawal of Franck Esposito due to illness, Britain's Stephen Parry did not leave any chance for the other finalists. He posted a fast 1.57.46, 1.06 seconds faster than in the semifinal. Duarte Mouaro from Portugal took the second place in 2.01.48, and Frenchman Joanes Hedel from Dunkerque took the third place in 2.01.77. No French swimmer made the Olympic qualification.
Women 200 IM (final)
After her record set up yesterday, Laure Manaudou of Melun was a little too excited. She led at 100 meters in 1.01.95 but did not manage to keep her lead. She finished third in 2.15.82. Celine Cartiaux of Amiens had a stronger back half and posted a personal best of 2.15.75 for second place.
Hanna Shcherba of Belarus and CS Clichy 92 won with a 2.14.70, a little off her 2.14.62 swam in prelims. The two French were fast enough for the European Championships but not for the Olympic Games.
Men's 4×200 freestyle relay (final)
The British national team was way too fast for the French clubs. With 7.20.75, they simply posted the fastest relay time of the year. The team from Toulouse came second in 7.33.62, and the team from Montpellier third was 7.35.79.
During the semifinals, only Romain Barnier of Antibes got his qualifying time for Athens. He went 49.54, the exact cut. Fred Bousquet of CS Clichy 92 was 0.05 off the cut in 49.59. The final tomorrow will be a dual between those two men, as Salim Iles, an Algerian representing Racing won the semi in 49.53 but will not be allowed to swim the final.
Aurore Mongel of Mulhouse was too slow in the 200 fly for an Olympic cut, but her 2.11.49 gave her a spot for the European Champs and a second chance. Manaudou swam a solid 29.12 in the 50 back during the semis. She should win easily tomorrow and maybe lower her own record of 28.86 set in Barcelona.
The 3three French breastrokers went under the qualifying time for Madrid but none of them were fast enough for Athens. Bernard of Cannes 2.14.48, Duboscq of Le Havre 2.14.95, Perrot of CS Clichy 92 2.14.99, will have to chase Ian Edmond of Great Britain during the final tomorrow, he posted a strong 2.12.29.
Both Melanie Marshall and Claudia Poll swam under two minutes tonight during the ‘foreign final’ in the 200 freestyle. The women's 4×200 relay will be another race for England. “I hope to see Alena Popchanka leading the relay for her club the CS Clichy 92 tomorrow night”, said Head Coach Ben Titley, “so she will race with Marshall”.
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