Maxime Grousset went third in the 100 free rankings with a 47.62 blast as the French Championships continued to deliver in Rennes.

Florent Manaudou headed the prelims, going 48.12 for the fourth-fastest 100 free of his career and his swiftest in over seven years in prelims ahead of Grousset.

The three-time Olympic 50 free medallist didn’t appear for the final and Grousset took control from the off, out in 22.88 with clear water between him and Max Berg, the next man to the turn in 23.53.

Grousset came back in 24.74 to post a time 0.02 swifter than the 47.64 which secured silver behind David Popovici at last year’s World Championships.

It was 0.10 outside his 47.52 PB from the Tokyo Olympics with the 47.54 from the semis in Budapest last year.

It elevated him to third behind Pan Zhanle‘s rankings-topper of 47.22 and 0.01 behind Popovici’s 47.61 from the Romanian nationals.

Guillaume Guth and Berg were next home but were outside the Fukuoka cut.

Melanie Henique won the women’s 50 free in 24.70 ahead of Marie Wattel who clocked 24.73 with both women booking a ticket to Japan, Beryl Gastaldello third in 24.83.

Marchand Marches On; Joy Follows Pain For Moluh

Leon Marchand

Leon Marchand: Photo Courtesy: KMSP/Stéphane Kempinaire

Marchand won silver in the 200 fly behind Kristof Milak at last year’s World Championships in a French record of 1:53.37, albeit 3.03secs outside the Hungarian’s world-record time.

The 21-year-old – coached by the same Bob Bowman who guided Michael Phelps throughout his stellar career – went 1:59.17 in prelims to book lane five.

Out in 26.07, Marchand was never threatened despite the faster final 50 of Noyan Taylan to stop the clock at 1:55.79 to 1:56.52.

It was the sixth-fastest 2 fly of his career and with that Marchand chalked up a third swim in Fukuoka having already booked two races for himself in the 200 breaststroke and 200 freestyle following his sabre-rattling 2:06.59 in the former to become fourth fastest all-time.

Taylan though was outside the cut of 1:56.36.

Franck Esposito is the only Frenchman to have won an Olympic 200 fly medal, claiming bronze at Barcelona 1992, nine years and nine months before Marchand was born.

Marchand’s mother Celine Bonnet competed in the 100 back in Barcelona and his father Xavier made his Games debut at Atlanta 1996 before going on to win world and European medals in the 200IM.

The likes of Milak and Olympic silver medallist Tomoru Honda await as will an expectant home crowd in Paris next year but Marchand is a swimmer who prompts the question “what will he do this time?” whenever he takes to the blocks.

European champion Analia Pigree won the 50 back in 27.61 ahead of continental junior title-holder Mary-Ambre Moluh whose time of 27.69 meant both were women inside the cut.

It’ll be a second swim for Pigree who made it in the 100 back in which Moluh missed out by 0.01 in third.

Damien Joly headed the fastest heat of the 800 free in 7:49.41 ahead of Marc-Antoine Olivier (7:50.23) as both men punched their tickets to Japan.