PHOENIX, Arizona, July 9. OVER the weekend many top athletes raced one last time before the Olympic Games at two meets around the globe. Let's start at the Paris Open, where Camille Muffat won the 200, 400 and 800 free. While her times in the 200 and 400 were routine after the impressive times she has posted all season, she swam a really fast 800 free, an 8:23.60 for sixth in the world. Muffat performed a major negative split in the race, coming home in a 4:04.82, just a little bit faster than the 4:04.52 she swam to win the event a day later.
Yannick Agnel, meanwhile, picked up wins in the 100, 200 and 400 free. Among the swims, his 1:46.09 in the 200 free stood out as less than a half-second slower than Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swam at the U.S. Olympic Trials two weeks ago. Agnel enters the Olympics ranked first in the world at 1:44.42. French men also swept the backstroke events in Paris, with Camille Lacourt finishing first in the 50 and 100 back, while Ben Stasiulis picked up the win in the 200 distance.
Kirsty Coventry returned to international competition with wins in the 200 IM and 200 back, edging Anastasia Zueva in the backstroke event. Coventry and Zueva rank first and second all time in that event. Zueva also had a productive weekend, picking up wins in the 50 and 100 back. She broke 1:00 in the 100 distance, finishing at 59.40, off of a 58.97 she swam a few months ago that ranks second in the world. Dutch sprinters Marleen Veldhuis and Femke Heemskerk, as well as Sweden's five-time Olympian Therese Alshammar and Aussie Matt Targett, all picked up wins in Paris.
Scott Dickens was the highlight among Canadians at the Canada Cup last weekend in Montreal. Dickens swam a 1:00.91 in the 100 breast, not too far off the time he swam at the Olympic Trials to get on the team in that event. Wu Peng of China was one of a few swimmers from Club Wolverine to attend the meet, and he made the most of it with a season-best time of 1:54.91 in the 200 fly to move to fourth in the world. Milorad Cavic, another Club Wolverine swimmer, completed his pre-Olympic racing with wins in the 50 and 100 fly and 100 free.
Barry Murphy posted the seventh-fastest time in the world in the men's 50 breast with a 27.55, while Martha McCabe swept all three breaststroke events, and Julia Wilkinson won both the 100 free and 100 back in Montreal.
The American Olympic team has gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a few days of training camp before heading to Europe for more training before the Olympics. They'll be training at the University of Tennessee, where the Vols have three 50-meter pools for the Olympic team to use, as well as state-of-the-art dryland facilities.
USA Swimming has announced six of the reported 16 cities that have submitted bids to host the 2016 Olympic Trials. USA Swimming requires a venue similar to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, host of the past two Trials, and ownership of the venue for a full month surrounding the event, which eliminates arenas that may be in use for NBA or NHL playoff action during June. Known cities so far include Greensboro, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Long Beach, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and Omaha. The bid process for the 2016 Trials won't start until later this year.
The University of Georgia announced this weekend that Stefanie Williams will replace Carol Capitani on the coaching staff this season. Capitani recently left Georgia to take over as the head women's coach at the University of Texas. Williams has coached at Ohio State the past four years, including a stint as associate head coach for the 2011-2012 season. Williams swam at Georgia from 1999-2002.
The USA women's Water Polo team wrapped up a four-game series with Hungary over the weekend. After two wins over Hungary last week, the Americans edged their European rivals once again on Friday, winning 7-6 at UC-San Diego. The series concluded on Sunday at Costa Del Mar High School in a match televised on the NBC Sports Network, where the Americans trounced Hungary 9-4.
And finally, the US Masters nationals took place in the same pool where the US Olympic Trials were held, and several world and national records were set. You can find all of our recaps from the meet at swimmingworld.com.