Camille Muffat Remembered At French Nationals, Fred Bousquet Returns

Fred Bousquet
Photo Courtesy: Greg Smith / USA Today Sports

The life and legacy of Olympic champion Camille Muffat, who died earlier this month in a helicopter crash, started tonight’s proceedings at the French long course nationals and world championship trials. The 25-year-old made a major impact on swimming in France in an elite career that spanned nearly a decade, winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the 400 free and inspiring many that competed with her.

It’s fitting that the first day of competition in Limoges featured the women’s 400 freestyle and 200 individual medley, as Muffat owns the French records in both events. No one was able to beat Muffat’s marks, but France did get some world championships qualifiers out of both events. Charlotte Bonnet kept the 200 IM title in French hands, holding off Hungary’s Evelyn Verraszto in the final 100 meters to post a 2:12.14 to Verraszto’s 2:12.32. Bonnet’s time puts her ninth in the world, with Verrraszto lurking in 10th position.

Sharon Van Rouwendaal, the reigning Female World Swimmer of the Year as named by Swimming World Magazine, took the 400 free out hard, splitting 2:00.96 at the 200 to put herself in line for a swim in the 4:03 range. But the Dutch star fell off the pace, winning the event with a 4:05.73. The top Frenchwoman was Coralie Balmy, who placed a strong second with a 4:07.51. Van Rouwendaal sits fifth in the world just ahead of Katinka Hosszu’s 4:05.75, while Balmy just missed the top 10.

Another highlight of the first day of competition was the return of Fred Bousquet to the race pool. Bousquet took some time off in spring 2014 to recover from shoulder surgery … and to mull the possibility of a political career once he’s done as a professional swimmer. Bousquet is now back with a goal of qualifying for world championships, and he placed second in the 50 butterfly final with a 23.78 behind Florent Manaudou’s 23.37. Also under 24 seconds was Yonel Govindin with a 23.87 for third. Manaudou put himself in a tie for third in the world with Andrey Govorov, while Bousquet is tied for 13th with another Russian, Evgeny Sedov. Notably, Fabien Gilot placed sixth in the final after posting a 23.47 in prelims. Whether the French swimming federation will consider Gilot’s prelim swim when picking the two athletes to swim the event at worlds is unclear, especially since France tends to put aside qualification standards in order to create a complete roster of the best athletes.

After the 50 fly final, Manaudou said: “I am happy to be qualified for Kazan, but I am not satisfied with the (race) and in my time. It is difficult to work on everything, but we will get there.”

The women’s 100 butterfly featured a two-woman battle not only for the win, but the privilege of swimming at the world championships. Marie Wattel and Beryl Gastaldello separated from the field early and set up a tight race to the finish. Wattel earned the victory with a 58.35, while Gastaldello – who recently competed for Texas A&M University at the NCAA championships in the United States – was second with a 58.57. Both earned automatic selection to the world championship team.

Damien Joly just barely dipped under the FINA A standard in the men’s 400 free to win with a 3:50.05. With Yannick Agnel skipping the event, it creates a major hole for the French team, but for now, Joly’s time is ranked 14th in the world. Jordan Pothain overtook Joris Bouchat in the final 100 meters to place second with a 3:52.30 to Bouchat’s 3:52.95.

Giacomo Perez Dortogna nearly became just the third man under 1:00 so far in 2015 with a 1:00.31 to win the 100 breaststroke. He’s now third in the world behind Adam Peaty’s 59;04 and Cody Miller’s 59.92, and it’s a lifetime best for the Frenchman as he looks to help France defend its world title in the 400 medley relay. Thomas Dahlia, who arrived in France immediately after competing in last week’s men’s NCAA championships for the University of Louisville, was second with a 1:01.32 while Quentin Coton took third with a 1:01.70.

2015 French Long Course Nationals, Day One – Results

1 comment

  1. avatar

    “Sharon Van Rouwendaal, the reigning Female World Swimmer of the Year as named by Swimming World Magazine….”

    This portion of the article carries significant risk of not being understood properly. Sharon was not “the” swimmer of the year. She was the 2014 Swimming World OPEN WATER Swimmer of the Year. She had a fine year, but I suspect she wasn’t central to the discussion in the SW offices, with the likes of Ledecky, Hosszu and others, for “the” Female World Swimmer of the Year selection.