French Olympic Trials: Malia Metella Breaks National Record in 100 Free; Alain Bernard Leads Strong French Sprint Corps

DUNKIRK, France, April 24. WHILE Malia Metella might have been the only national-record breaker of the day, Alain Bernard and the potential men's 400 free relay in Beijing put on a show in the men's 100 free at the French Olympic Trials held in Dunkirk.

Malia Metella smashed her national record of 54.46 from 2004 with a semifinal time of 54.27 in the women's 100 free. Alena Popchanka helped push her the entire way with a third-seeded time of 54.65 in the first semifinal, while Celine Couderc eclipsed the former record with a second-seeded qualifying time of 54.30. Will Metella or Couderc become the first Frenchwoman under 54 during finals?

You know you are astonishingly fast when being inside 48 seconds in the men's 100 free is becoming routine for you. Alain Bernard just proved that with a time of 47.82, inside the old world record of 47.84 previously held by Pieter van den Hoogenband since 2000. The time also broke Bernard's meet record of 48.12 set last year, but is short of his world-record time of 47.50 from last month in the event.

Fabien Gilot nearly broke the 48-second barrier with a blistering time of 48.02 to jump into the top five all time and also dip under the previous meet record, while Fred Bousquet (48.71) and Amaury Leveaux (48.79) went off in third and fourth. Boris Steimetz also went sub-49 with a fifth-place 48.96.

National-record holder Aurore Mongel crushed the meet record with a time of 2:07.36 to win the women's 200 fly. She surpassed the 2:09.84 set by Sarah Bey back in 2006, but fell short of her national standard of 2:06.59 set last month.

After setting the national record with a smoking fast time of 2:09.72 during semifinals of the men's 200 breast, Hugues Duboscq throttled back during finals with a winning effort of 2:10.38. Still three seconds faster than second-place Julien Nicolardot, who touched in 2:13.36 to beat the Olympic standard, Duboscq did not win up breaking the 2:09 barrier to become the third member of the 2:08 club.

In the men's 200 back semis, Pierre Roger topped qualifying with a time of 1:59.43, which already cleared the Olympic cut. Benjamin Stasiulis, meanwhile, finished second in 1:59.77, just off the cut. Simon Dufour qualified third with a time of 2:00.72.

Russian Elena Bogomazova led qualifying in the women's 200 breast with a time of 2:28.34 during semifinals. Sophie De Ronchi was the top Frenchwoman with a time of 2:29.54, while Coralie Balmy qualified third in 2:31.29.

In the men's 200 IM semifinal round, Fabien Horth led a trio of swimmers in the 2:03s with a time of 2:03.39. Christophe Soulier took second in 2:03.61, while Clement Lefert qualified third in 2:03.85.

The international team of Sweden's Gabriella Fagundez, France's Margaux Fabre, France's Camille Sere and Romania's Camelia Potec clocked a meet record of 7:59.87 to demolish the previous standard of 8:07.55 set in 2006. An all-French team of Coralie Balmy, Elsa N'Guessan, Alicia Bozon and Ophelie Cyriell Etienne took a close second in 8:00.05.