SAINT ETIENNE, France, April 19. A gold medal and third national record for France's Laure Manaudou plus a third gold and third national mark for Denmark's Louise Ornstedt highlighted the penultimate day of racing at the French Championships this evening in St. Etienne.
Spicing up the action even further, there was a pair of losses by swimmers going for their fourth and third golds, respectively.
The 17-year-old Manaudou, already a record-setter in the 400 and 1500m freestyle events earlier in the week, added the 800 free title and record this evening with an 8:33.92 – 8:42.72 victory over Romania's Slyvia Paduraru, hacking more than five seconds off the previous French record.
Manaudou's time ranks her third globally behind a pair of 8:32s by Americans Diana Munz and Adrienne Binder from the U.S. Nationals earlier this month.
"To come here and break three records when just last year I was competing at the European Junior Championships …it is quite amazing," the winner told French media. "I am so happy, but I know that to be competitive at the next level there is so much more work for me to do."
Ornstedt, already the winner and Danish record-setter in the 50 and 100m dorsal events, went a 2:11.52 to win the 200. She broke her own standard of 2:11.94 from last year's European Championships, which ranked her 14th globally.
On this year's world list Ornstedt is fourth behind Great Britain's Katy Sexton's Commonwealth record 2:09.27 from the British Trials last month, teammate Sarah Price's 2:09.91 from the same meet and a 2:10.8 by America's Margaret Hoelzer that won her gold at the "Duel in the Pool" two weeks ago.
The surprises were in the women's 50 fly, where Holland's Chantal Groot upset triple gold-medalist Elena Popchenka of Belarus, 27.16 – 27.19. Popchenka has already won the 100 and 200 frees and the 100 fly and Sunday will be going for victory No. 4 in the 50 free.
The other major surprise came in the men's 50 free where Algeria's Salim Iles went 22.55 to edge France's Fred Bousquet's 22.56. This is the second race in as many nights where the winner won over an American-trained collegian by .01. On Friday, Xavier Marchand edged Tunisia's Ous Mellouli in the 200 IM, 2:02.89 – 2:02.90. Mellouli attends USC.
Iles' win over Bousquet is not where the surprise came, however. That was the race's fourth-place finisher, 100 free world record-holder Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, who could only manage a 22.70, .01 slower than bronze-medalist Julien Sicot.
However, it should be noted that Hoogie is more a 100-200 man, and even dabblea a bit in the 400 free and 50-100 flys. He was third at Sydney in the one-lapper (national record 22.03), which eclipsed his previous pr of 22.06 that won gold at the '99 Euros in Istanbul.
That swim is his only major international 50 free title. He was second at the last World Championships and fourth at the Euros in Berlin last July.
Veteran Franck Esposito won the 100 fly in 52.93, slightly off his leading qualifying time of 52.55, which in turn was .023 off his national record. His time ranks him third globally behind the USA's Michael Phelps (American-record 51.84, history's second-fastest time); and Canada's Mike Mintenko's 52.57 from the U.S. Nationals.