CHARTRES, France, April 10. THOUGH he will not race against the Australians this year, Florent Manaudou showed that he wants to end 2014 as the fastest sprinter on the planet with a speedy swim in the 50 free on the third day of the French long course nationals. The meet is serving as the selection trials for the European championships.
Manaudou, the reigning Olympic champion in the 50 free, posted a 21.70 to stand second in the world rankings behind the 21.65 by Eamon Sullivan. It was the only swim under 22 seconds by a long way, as Nosy Pelagie took second with a 22.43. Fabien Gilot, a longtime top sprinter, could only place third with a 22.45 in a tie with Clement Mignon.
Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravius battled again in the 50 back final in a retelling of last yearâ€™s world championship final. Lacourt, the reigning world champion, was first with a 24.37, which was five hundredths faster than the time he swam in Barcelona last year. Straviusâ€™ 24.80 today was three tenths slower than the time he posted to win the silver medal at worlds. Lacourt holds the top spot in the world rankings, with Stravius third. Eric Ress was still unable to break up the two, placing third with a 25.79.
Yannick Agnelâ€™s 1:45.63 in the 200 free final today wasnâ€™t fast enough to put him at the top of the world rankings, missing Cameron McEvoyâ€™s 1:45.46 from last weekâ€™s Australian nationals. Agnel was slightly faster than his previous best time of the season, a 1:45.76 from the Arena Grand Prix in January, and holds on to his third-ranked spot in the global standings. Agnel was out fast at 100 meters with a 50.88 but couldnâ€™t hold the pace, splitting 27.3 on the last two 50-meter splits.
Well back in second place in the 200 free was Gregory Mallet with a 1:48.29, while Lorys Bourelly placed third with a 1:49.05. Agnel, Mallet and Bourelly were part of the fourth-place relay at last yearâ€™s world championships and all three will have to swim faster at Europeans to challenge the Russians for gold. Stravius was part of that relay last year but appears to be focusing on other strokes in 2014.
Coralie Balmy kicked off the session with an 8:29.18 to win the womenâ€™s 800 freestyle. That puts her ninth in the world rankings, but a full 10 seconds behind world leader Jessica Ashwood. Morgane Rothon placed second with an 8:42.17, while Coralie Codevelle was third in an 8:45.54.
Camille Muffat took the womenâ€™s 100 free with a 54.08, putting her 11th in the world in what would be deemed as her third event. Charlotte Bonnet was second with a 54.68, while Cloe Hache and Anna Santamans tied for third with matching times of 55.35. Muffat returned to double up on wins with a 58.54 in the 100 fly, an impressive swim for the freestyle specialist and former IMer. It ties her for 12th in the world with Canadaâ€™s Noemie Thomas. Marie Wattelâ€™s 59.40 was second and third place went to Melanie Henique with a 59.57.
Hungaryâ€™s David Verraszto dipped under two minutes to win the menâ€™s 200 IM with a 1:59.92 to leapfrog to seventh in the global standings and stand, for now, as the fastest Hungarian in the world, beating the 2:00.02 Laszlo Cseh posted in February. Ganesh Pedurand was second with a 2:02.50 to over power Romain Landry on the freestyle leg. Landry settled for third with a 2:02.76.
In semifinal events, Stravius posted a 2:00.25 to stand as the top qualifier in the 200 butterfly, but he could be challenged by Thomas Vilaceca, who was second with a 2:00.35. Paul Lemaire will go in as the third seed with a 2:01.27.
The Antibes team will have two swimmers as the top qualifiers for tomorrowâ€™s menâ€™s 200 breast final. Thomas Dahlia swam a 2:12.50 in semifinals today, while Quentin Coton posted a 2:13.05. Patrick Perisser was close behind with a 2:14.98.
Evelyn Verraszto of Hungary could be the class of the field in tomorrowâ€™s 200 IM final, posting a 2:13.81 in semifinals. Barbora Zavadova of the Czech Republic was second overall with a 2:15.89 and Fantine Lesaffre was third in 2:17.03.
Cloe Credevilleâ€™s 1:02.91 was the top time in the womenâ€™s 100 back semifinals, with Mathilde Cini second with a 1:03.19 and Beryl Gastaldello third in 1:03.59.