SAINT ETIENNE, FRANCE, April 14. KING Peter showed up but Inky stayed home on Day 2 of the French Nationals, which are doubling as that nation's World Championship Trials.
Holland's Peter van den Hoogenband, double Olympic champ in the 100-200 frees and world record-holder in the former, swam a solid 1:47.33 in one semifinal to qualify No. 1 for the 200 free finals on Tuesday.
In the other semi, former Auburn star Romain Barnier, who at last summer's European Championships went a national record 1:48.80 in the semis, clocked 1:49.96 for the second-best time.
Hoogie's time is just off his seasonal best 1:46.78 and ranks him third globally behind Australians Ian Thorpe (1:45.35), Grant Hackett (1:46.19) and just ahead of America's Klete Keller's 1:47.08 from the
"Duel in the Pool" a week ago Sunday.
Hoogie didn't swim in France's Euro Championship Trials last year but did compete in their World Trials two years ago and won the 200 in 1:47.78.
Holland's Inge deBruijn, Sydney triple gold medalist who's now back home training since leaving Tualatin Hills, Oregon coach Paul Bergen earlier this month after a six-year stint in the States, is focusing her efforts on the Dutch World Trials later this month.
The leading French performer was breaststroker Hugues Duboscq, who won the 100 in 1:01.57, about a half-second off his NR 1:01.04 from last year's Euros. He ranks fifth in the world behind USA leader Ed Moses (AR 1:00.21); Britain's James Gibson (Commonwealth record 1:00.47 from last month's British Trials in Sheffield); USA's Brendan Hansen (pr 1:00.49 from Duel in the Pool) and Britain's Darren Mew (1:00.74, also from the British Trials).
With the two Brits good bets to final at the World Championships in Barcelona in three months plus Japan's Kosuke Kitajima (Asian record 1:00.34 at the Pan-
Pacs last summer), presumably Moses and Hansen plus Russia's defending champ/world record-holder Roman Sludnov — first and only man under 1:00.0 — making Top 8 will be no mean feat and could well require a sub 1:01
Others in the mix include defending Euro champ Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine, who swam a pr/NR 1:00.29 to win the gold; and defending Italian Olympic 100-200 breast champ Domenico Fioravanti, whose 1:00.46 at Sydney is the Big O's record and fifth all-time (performers).
Auburn's NCAA 50 free champ Fred Busquets lowered his NR int he 50 fly by .01 with his winning 24.17, third-fastest for the year. Countryman Simon Dufour led all qualifers in the 100 back with a 55.84, followed by Pierre Roger (55.98).
On the distaff side, Belarus' Elena Popchenka lowered her week-old pr/NR in the 100 fly also by .01, winning in 58.81. That time is third globally behind Aussie Petria Thomas' 58.57 from her WCTs last month; and USA's Natalie Coughlin's 58.70, which won the Duel in the Pool. Popchenka's time would have ranked her sixth globally last year but as it was, she didn't go under a minute. Holland's Chantal Groot (1:00.39) was runner-up.
Denmark's Louise Ornstedt, whose pr/NR in the 100 back going in was a 1:01.69 from the Euro semis, went a quick 1:01.47 in the heats and then 1:01.46 in the semis to qualify first. Her time ranks her fifth.
The other winner was Romania's Beatrice Caslaru, who raced to gold in the 200 IM with her 2:16.67. Her pr/NR is 2:12.57 that won the gold at the 2000 Euros in Helsinki. She also was silver medalist in the 200 breast at the last World Championships, finishing in 2:25.00 (pr/NR) to winner Agnes Kovacs of Hungary's 2:24.90.
The versatile Romanian ranks fourth all-time among active 200 IMers. Ukraine's Yana Klochkova (Euro-record 2:10.60 and second-performance all-time) is No. 1, followed by America's Maggie Bowen (2:11.93 to win the gold at the last World Championships); China's Qi Hui (2:12.46) and Caslaru.
All four could well be chasing China's Wu Yanyan's six-year-old "world-record" of 2:09.72 come the finals at Barcelona.