CANET, France, June 6. THE second of three stops of the Mare Nostrum series began today in Canet, France with a new textile best in the 200 freestyle from France's Camille Muffat.
Muffat shattered her own textile best of 1:54.87 from March with a 1:54.66. Her time is now the fourth fastest in history, behind three remarkable swims by Italy's Federica Pellegrini — 1:52.98, 1:53.67 and 1:54.47. The Netherlands' Femke Heemskerk finished a distant second in 1:57.78, followed by Great Britain's Caitlin McClatchey in 1:57.90.
Sweden's Therese Alshammar posted a sterling time of 24.66 to win the women's 50 free, the ninth fastest time of 2012 and a two-tenth improvement from her previous best of 24.86. Great Britain's Francesca Halsall took second in 24.92 while The Netherlands' Inge Dekker was third (24.94). Halsall sits second in the world rankings at 24.13, with Dekker in fifth at 24.42.
The men's 50 free came down to the touch as France's Florent Manaudou had the edge, 22.36 to 22.38 over Canada's Brent Hayden. Hanser Garcia of Cuba rounded out the top three in 22.43. Manaudou is ranked the highest of the three swimmers, with a 21.86 from the French Olympic Trials in March.
Yannick Agnel kept the ball rolling for the French with a 1:45.24 in the men's 200 free. That time stands second overall this year, behind Agnel's own 1:44.42 from the French Olympic Trials. Fellow countryman Clement Lefert finished second in 1:47.22 while Australia's Tommaso D'Orsogna picked up third in 1:48.35.
In today's distance freestyle events, South Africa's Devon Brown captured the men's 400 free with a time of 3:53.86. China's Wei Haobo (3:55.27) and Australia's Jarrod Killey (3:55.67) placed second and third. Chili's Kristel Kobrich was first to the wall in the women's 800 free, just out-touching China's Bi Yirong, 8:35.35 to 8:35.76. Great Britain's Joanne Jackson swam an 8:40.05 for third.
Lizzie Simmonds of Great Britain outswam the field in the women's 100 back, posting a time of 1:00.71 for the win. Simmonds' top time of 2012 is a 1:00.43 from the British Olympic Trials in March. Sinead Russell of Canada (1:01.26) and Femke Heemskerk of The Netherlands (1:01.86) completed the podium finishers.
France's Camille Lacourt, who already owns the fastest time in the men's 100 back this year at 52.75, won the event today in 54.24. Australia's Ben Treffers touched right behind in 54.32 while Great Britain's Chris Walker Hebborn was third in 55.26.
Sweden's Rebecca Ejdervik (31.51) and Brazil's Felipe Lima (27.77) came out on top in the women's and men's 50 breast. He Yuzhe of China (31.75) and Danielle Beaubrun of St. Lucia (32.04) finished second and third in the women's event. Giulio Zorzi of South Africa (27.88) and Max Ireland of Australia (28.20) finished in the top three on the men's side.
Spaniard Marina Garcia Urzainqui earned her fourth victory of the Mare Nostrum series with a winning effort of 2:25.22 in the women's 200 breast. Garcia Urzainqui swept the breaststroke events last weekend in Barcelona. Iceland's Hrafnhildur Lutherdottir swam a 2:27.11 for second, ahead of Canada's Kierra Smith (2:27.36).
Great Britain's Andrew Willis had the fastest time in the men's 200 breast as he finished in 2:12.66, more than two seconds in front of France's Giacomo Perez Dortona (2:14.89). China's Xue Ruipeng wound up third in 2:15.27.
Norway's Ingvild Snildal won a close battle in the women's 100 fly with a 58.53, just .03 ahead of Canada's Katerine Savard (58.56). Francesca Halsall picked up third in 58.97.
In the men's 100 fly, Russia's Nikita Konovalov was first to the wall in 52.73, with Sweden's Lars Frolander in second at 52.79. Frolander, the 2000 Olympic champion in the event, looks to be in great shape to qualify for Sweden's Olympic team at age 38 after posting a 52.36 in prelims. Brazil's Kaio Almeida took third in 52.99.
The men's and women's 200 IM were also contested today, with Canada's Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (2:13.94) and South Africa's Chad Le Clos (2:01.14) winning their respective events. He Yuzhe of China (2:14.74) finished second, while France's Lara Grangeon (2:14.75) was third on the women's side. Brazil's Henrique Rodrigues (2:02.37) and Canada's Tobias Oriwol (2:02.58) also earned medals in the men's race.