RENNES, France, April 10. JEREMY Stravius and Camille Lacourt, the reigning co-world champions in the 100 backstroke, will each get the opportunity to defend the title after taking the top two spots in the event at the French world championship trials today.
Though the two tied with a time of 52.76 at the 2011 worlds, Stravius won today's race over Lacourt, 53.09 to 53.65. After missing the Olympic team by a close margin last year, Stravius turned his focus to freestyle, helping France at the Olympics in the 800 free relay heats and winning a silver medal. Lacourt swam the 100 back at the Olympics, placing fourth with a 53.08.
Eric Ress, who just completed a tough three days of racing two weeks ago for Indiana University at the NCAA championships, finished in third in today's 100 back final with a 54.94. Unless he places in the top two later this week in the 200 backstroke, Ress will be eligible to swim for France at the World University Games.
Florent Manaudou is set to back up his surprise win in the 50 free at the Olympics with a world title, winning at nationals today with a 21.55, not far off his gold medal performance of 21.34, and keeps him at the top of the world rankings, which he previously had with a 21.62. Fred Bousquet, the former world record holder in this event, placed second with a 21.73 to give France a strong 1-2 punch in the event. Amaury Leveaux, the 2008 silver medalist, placed third with a 22.05.
Giacomo Perez D'Ortona nearly eclipsed his lifetime best in the 100 breaststroke, winning with a 1:00.64. His best is a 1:00.59 from the 2012 Olympics, where he placed 17th. Thomas Dahlia was second with a 1:02.25, with William Debourges third with a 1:02.48.
Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto continued her European racing tour with a win in the 200 backstroke, stopping the clock at 2:11.19. Cloe Credeville was the top Frenchwoman in the race, placing second with a 2:14.17, which is faster than the world championship “B” qualifying standard but not be fast enough to earn selection. Marie Jugnet placed third with a 2:15.94.
In the other final of the day, Enzo Vial Collet won the men's 1500 freestyle with a 15:19.72. Damien Joly finished second with a 15:20.80, while Lucas Vigorito placed third with a 15:22.31.
Four semifinal races took place today as well. Camille Muffat led qualifying in the women's 100 freestyle, posting a 53.61, just off Malia Metella's national record of 53.49. Four swimmers go into the women's 100 breast final tomorrow separated by three tenths of a second, with Coralie Dobral leading qualifying with a 1:10.50.
Isabelle Mabboux will take the top seed in tomorrow's 200 butterfly final with a 2:14.13, and Marie Wattel will be the second seed with a 2:14.26, which broke a 14-year-old record of 2:16.32 for the 16-year-old age group. David Verraszto, a Hungarian training in France, will take lane four in the men's 200 IM final with a time of 2:00.67. Stravius is the top-seeded Frenchman with a 2:00.95. He'll be aiming for Fabien Horth's national record of 1:59.58 in the final.