By Fred Vergnoux
DUNKERQUE, France, April 24. LAURE Manaudou of Melun posted her third French record tonight, clocking 8.31.21 for 800 meters freestyle and vaulting herself into a genuine medal contender for the distance events in Athens. On the sprint side, Malia Metella clocked a new French record in the 50 free in 25.07. Perhaps she will maybe swim even faster tomorrow during the final. Julien Sicot confirmed his spot for Athens in the 50 freestyle.
Women's 50m fly (final)
Alena Popchanka, the Belarussian swimmer of CS Clichy 92, got the gold in 27.35. Her time in the semi final (27.19) was rated at 1045 points — the highest score for the women's events after seven days of swimming.
"I compete in 12 races here with my team, it's tough and that's why we do it". The British swimmer Rosalind Brett got the silver in 27.64, and Fanny Leclercq of Antibes took the bronze in 27.78.
Men's 50m breastroke (final)
James Gibson of England posted a fast 28.08, confirming his leading world rank. Second place was for Hugues Duboscq of Le Havre in 28.71, and third was Malik Fall of Senegal in 28.78. Duboscq is qualified for the Olympic games in the 100 breastroke and will be part of the medley relay.
Women's 200m backstroke (final)
The British team won gold and silver in the final tonight, with Katy Sexton in 2.13.17 and Karen Lee in 2.13.37. Roxana Maracineanu, the world champion in 1998, got the bronze in 2.13.47, more than three seconds off her French record. No French swimmer made the Olympic standard.
Men's 100m fly (final)
Franck Esposito and Fred Bousquet had to finish in the top three to confirm their ‘visa’ for Athens, which they managed very well. Esposito of Antibes won the race with a strong 52.91, ahead of Bousquet of CS Clichy 92 in 53.35. England's James Hickman came third in 53.37. Esposito got his qualification for his fourth Olympic Games.
Women's 800m freestyle (final)
Rebecca Cooke had the right strategy tonight during the final. “I knew Laure will go out faster than me” so the British swimmer swam the second part faster, and won in 8.29.02. Laure Manaudou of Melun posted a new French record in 8.31.21. Kerianne Payne of England was third in 8.34.03. This is the third Olympic ticket for Manaudou.
Men's 50m freestyle (final)
The men of CS Clichy 92 posted the three best times after the semifinals yesterday, they did it again in the final. David Maitre confirmed his rank in 22.51, his second title in this event after his win in 2002. Second was Julien Sicot in 22.67 and third was Bousquet in 22.74.With his second place, Sicot validated his qualification for the Olympic Games.
Thus far, 12 French records have been broken and nine swimmers are qualified for Athens. One more day of competition will conclude the French Trials.