French Long Course National Championships: Yannick Agnel Downs French Record; Several World Bests Go Into Rankings

STRASBOURG, France, March 26. THE French Long Course Nationals Championships kept on rolling with several more world bests being posted by the assembled swimming superstars. Meanwhile, a French national record took a tumble.

Yannick Agnel followed up with a world-best time of his own when he threw down a 1:45.47 in the men's 200 free. That swim cleared his French record of 1:45.83 set in August 2010. He became the first man under 1:46 this year, as Michael Phelps held the previous world pacesetter with a 1:46.27 from the Indianapolis Grand Prix earlier this month. Jeremy Stravius posted a 1:48.46 for second, just off his fifth-ranked season best of 1:48.11, while Gregory Malley took third in 1:49.11. Sebastien Rouault also dipped under 1:50 with a fourth-place 1:49.77. Belgium's Mathieu Fonteyn turned in the best time for an international swimmer with a 1:52.10 in prelims.

Camille Muffat raced to victory in the women's 200 free with a winning time of 1:55.95. That effort moved her to the top of the world rankings ahead of Femke Heemskerk's 1:56.61 set in Amsterdam earlier this year. Muffat rattled Laure Manaudou's national record of 1:55.52, and nearly beat the textile best of 1:55.45 clocked by Federica Pellegrini in August 2010. Coralie Balmy took second in 1:58.37, while Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne rounded out the top three in 1:58.94. Charlotte Bonnet also cleared 2:00 with a fourth-place 1:59.10. Balmy moved to ninth in the world rankings with her time, while Etienne jumped into the top 15. Sweden's Gabriella Fagundez provided the top international swim of the day in the event with a 2:00.90 in prelims.

Lara Grangeon crushed the competition in the women's 400 IM en route to a world best. She clocked a time of 4:38.28 to clip the 4:38.47 set by Hannah Miley at the Duel in the Pool in February. Grangeon just missed the French record of 4:38.23 set by Joanne Andraca and Camille Muffat. Lea Giraudon finished a distant second in 4:52.20, while Sweden's Ida Sandin wound up third in 4:52.27.

Morocco's Sara El Bekri topped the women's 200 breast in 2:26.16 for second in the world rankings. Rebecca Soni still stands well in front with a 2:23.27 from February, but El Bekri was able to jump past Kanako Watanabe's second-ranked 2:26.84 from February. El Bekri's effort cleared her national record of 2:26.65 set in April 2009. Coralie Dobral took second in 2:27.27, while Fanny Babou placed third in 2:29.61. Dobral improved to fifth in the world rankings with her swim.

Hugues Duboscq also moved into second in the world rankings this year with a 1:00.63 in the men's 100 breast. He jumped ahead of Barry Murphy's 1:00.77, but still stood behind Yuta Suenaga's 59.93 from February. Giacomo Perez Dortona touched second in 1:01.35, while Senegal's Malik Fall earned third in 1:02.58. Dortona moved to ninth in the world rankings with his performance.

Barbados' Bradley Ally claimed the men's 200 IM title in 2:00.90, moving to eighth in the world rankings this year. Ganesh Pedurand touched second in 2:03.31, while Arnaud Rondan wound up third in 2:03.65.

In relay action, the foursome of Sweden's Gabriella Fagundez, France's Chloe Trouilhet, France's Myriam Meddeb and Sweden's Ida Sandin won the women's 400 free relay in 3:51.96. Alain Bernard, Belgium's Yoris Grandjean, Clement Mignon and Boris Steimetz captured the men's 400 free relay in 3:19.02. Bernard clocked a 48.62 as the leadoff, bettering his fourth-ranked season best of 48.71 set earlier this meet.