French Olympic Trials: Amaury Leveaux Marks European Record in 50 Free

DUNKIRK, France, April 26. THE seventh day of swimming at the French Olympic Trials featured plenty of fast swims as plenty of national records went by the wayside. One of the fastest times included Amaury Leveaux shattering the European record in the men's 50 free.

Leveaux shocked the world as he finished just .1 seconds off Eamon Sullivan's world record time of 21.28 with a 21.38 during finals to usurp Alain Bernard's title as the Fastest Man in Europe. Leveaux's effort smashed Bernard's continental and national record of 21.50 set last month, which was the fastest ever at the time. Bernard, meanwhile, placed second in 21.69, while Fred Bousquet missed an Olympic spot with a time of 21.72.

Incredibly, Bousquet is one of the more amazing stories of the Trials season thus far. Yesterday, during semis, Bousquet clocked a time of 21.60 – inside the old world record of 21.64 that was held by Alexander Popov. The drastic improvement in the event shines through as evidenced by Bousquet. A man under Popov's previous record will not compete in the event in Beijing.

The entire final field deserves mention for the French: Fabien Gilot (22.31), Julien Sicot (22.41), David Maitre (22.56), Boris Steimetz (22.65), Yoris Grandjean (22.68).

While her dominance as the top female swimmer in France has been shaken this week, Manaudou still has the inherent ability to dominate in specific events. Manaudou came within a fingernail of breaking Krisztina Egerszegi's European record of 2:06.62 from back in 1991. Manaudou finished with a national record time of 2:06.64 to destroy her previous French standard of 2:07.99 from last month.

The performance moved Manaudou into the 2:06 club, previously inhabited by only Kirsty Coventry (2:06.39) and Egerszegi (2:06.62).

Alexiane Castel will join Manaudou in Beijing after clocking a second-place time of 2:07.94.

Bousquet followed in the men's 100 fly with a national-record time of 51.50. That time crushed his semifinal record time of 51.83, which had lowered his 52.29 from earlier this month. Bousquet nearly took down Andriy Serdinov's European record of 51.36.

Bousquet is now among the top five all time in the event behind the likes of Ian Crocker (50.40), Michael Phelps (50.77) and Serdinov (51.36).

Christophe Lebon finished second in the event with a time of 52.25, which also cleared the Olympic cut.

It took four years, but Malia Metella dropped her 2004 national record in the women's 50 free of 24.89 with a semifinal time of 24.83 to lead qualifying. Aurore Mongel qualified second in 25.50, while Hanna Shcherba Lorgeril (25.55) and Celine Couderc (25.57) will bracket the pair during the finale.

The men's metric mile opened the day of swimming with Anthony Pannier topped qualifying for the 1500 freestyle event in 15:14.16, which missed the Olympic standard. Nicolas Rostoucher, the meet-record holder with a 15:03.37 from 2006, took second in 15:26.66, while national-record holder Sebastien Rouault placed third in 15:28.03.

Romania's Camelia Potec set a meet record in the women's 800 free with a time of 8:23.78. That performance beat Manaudou's previous record of 8:25.42 as the European record holder with an 8:18.80 actually pulled out of the event to focus on the backstroke swims.

Coralie Balmy topped the French-based swimmers with a second-place 8:25.63 to make the Olympic cut, while Sophie Huber finished third in 8:30.78 to also clear the Olympic standard.

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