CHAMALIERES, FRANCE, May 4. ALGERIAN freestyle sprint star Salim Iles came within a tenth of a second of upsetting world record-holder Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 100m freestyle finals tonight at the fifth day of the French Championships-World Championship Trials.
Improving upon his pr of 49.70 from Sydney, Iles went a 49.65 but still came in a close second as Hoogie won in 49.56. Third was former Auburn NCAA finalist Romain Barnier (50.03). The Fukuoka qualifying standard (for France) is 49.49 but in all likelihood a "grace period" extending back perhaps a year or more — possibly to Jan. 1, 2000 — will be in force, which means times done at last year's Olympics, for example, may be used for entry into the World Championships. Hoogie's seasonal best is 49.54 from a meet in Glasgow a month ago.
The other men's final was in the 200 breast where Johan Bernard — whose pr is 2:12.48 from last year — went a so-so 2:15.04 to J.C. Sarnin's 2:16.04. French record-holder Stephan Perrot (2:12.46) was third in 2:16.65. Bernard had been the race's top qualifier with a 2:13.79 in the semis.
On the women's side the 200 fly title went to Marion Perrotin (2:15.04) with Laura Blomme (2:15.95) second. The qualifying standard is 2:11.47 for the World Championships and 2:15.49 for the World University Games in Beijing in August.
In semi-final competition 200 free NR record-holder Solenne Figues is tops in the 100 (56.68), and in the 200 breast Romania's Beatrice Coada-Caslaru is quickest (2:31.68). She won the 200 IM last evening in a Euro-leading 2:13.87 (No. 2 globally for the year) and her pr in the breaststroke is 2:26.76 that won the gold at last summer's European Championships in Helsinki. The top Frenchwoman is Anne Amardelih's 2:34.94.
In the semis of the men's 200 backstroke Simon Dufour's 2:00.71 is fastest. Dufour is French record-holder off his 1:59.79 from last year's Winter Championships in early March. Second-quickest is Holland's Klaas Zwering (2:01.23; 2:00.71p), and his pr-NR is a 2:00.06 from the prelims at the Sydney Olympics.
The other semi was in the 200 IM where Xavier Marchand swam 2:03.77 to qualify first. The 28-year-old medleyist holds the French record with his 2:01.08 from the 1997 Euro Championships in Seville and went 2:01.81 at Sydney — his seasonal pr last year.
— Bill Bell
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