By John Lohn
NANCY, France, April 14. PROMINENT names delivered victories Wednesday, during the opening night of the French World Championship Trials. The most notable of the titlists was Laure Manaudou, a triple-event medalist at the Athens Olympics.
Manaudou had an easy time winning the 800 freestyle, an event in which she claimed silver in Athens. The 18-year-old covered the 16-lap race in 8:35.21, comfortably ahead of the 8:41.70 turned in by Sophie Huber. Cathy Dietrich finished third in 8:54.88. Aside from winning silver in the 800 free in Athens, Manaudou secured gold in the 400 free and bronze in the 100 back.
In the 50-meter freestyle events, Malia Metella and Fred Bousquet cruised to victories. Metella, the Olympic silver medalist in the sprint race, outdistanced the field with a time of 25.22, more than a half-second ahead of Celine Couderc (25.75). As for Bousquet, the Auburn University standout powered to the wall in 22.37, topping Algeria’s Salim Iles (22.50) and Julien Sicot (22.66). Last month, at the NCAA Championships, Bousquet became the first man to break the 19-second barrier in the 50-yard free.
Aurore Mongel set a championship record in the women’s 200 butterfly, as she clocked in at 2:11.30, significantly quicker than the second-place time of Sarah Bey (2:15.09). Manaudou was third in 2:16.24. As for the male 200 fly, Portugal’s Duarte Mourao prevailed in 2:00.94, hardly an eye-catching time. Mourao was followed to the wall by Frenchmen Romain Sassot (2:02.02) and Joanes Hedel (2:02.50).
In the men’s 800 free, Sebastien Rouault was the victor and only individual to produce a sub-8:00 swim. Rouault was clocked in 7:58.49 while Nicolas Rostoucher was second in 8:02.09.