MARSEILLE, France, March 2. WHILE Fran Halsall had the top overall night with a pair of victories, Nathan Adrian certainly claimed the sexy win by downing several Olympic medalists to prevail in the men's 50-meter free at the Marseille Grand Prix.
Britain's Fran Halsall scorched the women's 100-meter fly finale tonight with a swift 58.37. That time is just a second off her lifetime best of 57.40 from the 2010 European Championships, and demonstrates that the two-time Olympian is still making strides within the sport. Halsall could be dangerous by the time 2016 Rio Games come around. Spain's Judit Ignacio Sorribes placed second in 1:00.40, while day one wonder Mireia Belmonte Garcia took third in 1:01.00.
Halsall doubled up later in the night with a headliner battle against American superstar Natalie Coughlin in the women's 50-meter free. Halsall cleared 25 seconds to win in 24.91, .80 seconds off her eighth-ranked lifetime best of 24.11 from the 2009 FINA World Championships. Coughlin, meanwhile, claimed second place in 25.52. That's a strong time for Coughlin as well with her best effort ever being a 24.92 from the 2008 Santa Clara International. Britain's Amy Smith wrapped up the podium-finishes with a third-place 25.72.
In the highest profile swim of the day, 100-meter free Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian clipped 50-meter free Olympic gold medalist Florent Manaudou in the 50 free, 21.75 to 21.83. Adrian's top time in the event is a 21.46 from the 2009 World Championships, while Manaudou threw down a 21.34 at the 2012 London Games. American sprinter Anthony Ervin, an Olympic gold medalist himself, finished third in 22.01. He topped out in the event with a 21.60 at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for his lifetime best. Fred Bousquet, the second-fastest man ever in the event with a 20.9 from 2008, took fourth in 22.14.
Poland's Konrad Czerniak grabbed the title in the men's 100-meter fly with a top time of 53.19. He has been much faster with an all-time 12th-ranked 51.15 from the 2011 World Championships, but the Polish Olympian had plenty of speed to earn the title. Spain's Rafael Munoz Perez claimed second in 53.86, while Italy's Luca Pancari earned third in 55.62. French locals were excited to see backstroke specialist Camille Lacourt make the finale out of prelims with a sixth-ranked 57.05. Lacourt, however, was disqualified.
Spain's Marina Garcia Urzainqui pocketed the women's 50-meter breast crown with a winning effort of 32.37. Garcia Urzainqui is a Spanish Olympian who finished 25th in the 100-meter breast at the 2012 London Olympics. France's Coralie Dobral touched second in 32.78, while Italy's Elisa Celli placed third in 32.94.
France's Giacomo Perez Dortona turned up the heat in the men's 50-meter breast, much to the delight of host fans. He raced to a time of 27.80 in the sprint breast, just half-a-second off his lifetime best of 27.36 from back in 2008. Italy's Francesco Di Lecce took second in 28.11, while France's Maxime Bussiere wound up third in 28.93.
France's Cloe Credeville turned in a 2:13.06 for the women's 200-meter backstroke victory. Spain took the next three spots as Melanie Costa Schmid (2:13.42), Mireia Belmonte Garcia (2:19.41) and Claudia Dasca Romeu (2:19.80) finished second, third and fourth. Britain's Liam Tancock then crushed the field in the men's 200-meter back with a 2:02.77. Spain's Marco Palacios Martin took second in 2:04.29, while Italy's Simone Sabbioni picked up third in 2:05.10.
Spain's Beatriz Gomez Cortes cruised to victory in the women's 200-meter IM with a 2:14.98. Italy's Luisa Trombetti (2:18.22), Camilla Dalrio (2:18.52) and Spain's Marina Garcia Urzainqui (2:18.72) battled for second. Spain's Albert Puig Garrich followed with a 2:03.59 to win the men's 200 IM. Spain's Alejandro Garcia Martin (2:05.32) and Italy's Vittorio Coloretti (2:06.87) placed second and third.
Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia added a third title to her wins from night one as she clocked a 4:09.23 in the 400 free. Compatriot's Melanie Costa Schmid (4:10.35) and Claudia Dasca Romeu (4:17.19) finished second and third behind her in the middle-distance event. Spain's Marc Sanchez Torrens ended the evening with a 3:56.53 to win the men's 400-meter free. France's Romain Magula took second in 3:57.48, while Spain's Victor Martin earned third in 3:58.53.