Mewen Tomac Blasts 52.87 For 100 Back Title In Rennes; Leon Marchand Goes Third All-Time In French 200 Free Waters

Mewen Tomac of France competes in the 100m Backstroke Men Semifinal during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 13th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Mewen Tomac: Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Mewen Tomac Blasts 52.87 For 100 Back Title In Rennes; Leon Marchand Goes Third All-Time In French 200 Free Waters

Mewen Tomac swam the second-swiftest 100 back of his career and Leon Marchand became the third-fastest Frenchman over 200 free on day two of finals in Rennes.

Anastasia Kirpichnikova earned a second swim in Fukuoka with a time of 16:04.89 in the 1500 free to go eighth in the 2023 rankings.

Only Laure Manaudou has gone faster in French waters with a record of 16:03.01 at the 2006 national championships.

Two men and two women added their names to the roster for the Fukuoka worlds next month with the French Championships acting as trials, making it 11 so far after two days of competition.

Tomac was just 0.01 outside his PB of 52.86 set in the semis of the 2020 European Championships in Budapest.

The 21-year-old – who trains in Amiens – was locked out of the continental podium by 0.03 two years ago as French teammate Yohann Ndoye Brouard and Apostolos Christou of Greece shared bronze.

On Monday, though it was a clear victory for Tomac who was out in 25.70 to Ndoye Brouard’s 26.31 and came home in 27.17 for the 11th-swiftest time in the world this year.

Ndoye Brouard split a a second 50 of 27.22 to post 53.53 with both men inside the cut for the World Championships.

Yohann Ndoye-Brouard of France reacts after compete in the 100m Backstroke Men Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 14th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Yohann Ndoye Brouard: Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Clement Secchi was third home in 54.20.

Tomac said through the French Federation:

“I’m very happy because throughout the year I’ve struggled to find my stroke in the 100m backstroke.

“Today I found it right away and I’m happy. I worked a lot on the start this year because it was on this part that I was losing time compared to the others.

“It’s the second time I’ve swum under 53′. It’s cool to come back to that level. I will work even more to hope to go faster.”

For Ndoye Brouard, there was relief as he booked his slot on the team months after injuring his elbow in a skiing accident.

He said:

“I don’t think I have often swum faster than 53.4. It’s a good time, I’m happy because I think I can do better at the World Championships.

“I’m having a little trouble concentrating on my race so I I tried not to look at Mewen and focus on myself.

“I had to redo a whole mental scheme because after an injury there is inevitably a drop in confidence and there, that I’m recovering well.

“It was a race against time, it was hard to manage sometimes, between the intensity that I wanted to put in training and the intensity that my body could endure.

“There are five weeks left and I think still be able to do some work. I’m not yet super confident.”

There was drama in the women’s race where just 0.14 separated the first three home with European junior bronze medallist Mary-Ambre Moluh missing out on a spot by 0.01.

Emma Terebo led at halfway with the only sub-29 of the field ahead of European 50 champion Analia Pigree (29.10) and Moluh (29.17) with Pauline Mahieu a further 0.15 adrift in 29.32.

Mahieu – fourth at last year’s Europeans in Rome – came past the field in 30.34 to take first in 59.66 with Pigree claiming the second spot for Fukuoka in 59.79 and Moluh a slither behind in 59.80.

Mahieu said:

“I am really relieved and happy. I loved this race. I’m not lying to you, there was a crazy pressure because it was the place that counted above all.

“Time, we had all four, the proof. I’m so happy to have won.

“My strategy was not to look at others. I know they tend to go fast and if I start staring I tend to think. I work on that in training. I know I have a big comeback and that’s what I managed to put in place again today.

“To compete in this event as an individual at the Worlds is incredible. I’ve been dreaming about this for years and it’s finally here.”

Marchand Goes Third All-Time In France; Kirpichnikova Eyes Record

Marchand – who produced a sabre-rattler in the 200br on Sunday to go fourth all-time in 2:06.59 – was seventh at halfway of the 200 free in 52.40 with Wissam-Amazigh Yebba in pole in 51.38.

Yebba led at the final turn in 1:19.09 ahead of Roman Fuchs – swiftest qualifier with his first sub-1:47 in the prelims – who reached 150 at 1:19.34 with Marchand third in 1:19.43 thanks to a third 50 of 27.03.

The Bob Bowman-trained athlete then turned on the burners and came home in 27.01 to take first in 1:46.44.

Hadrien Salvan was second in 1:46.82 with Fuchs next home in 1:46.93 although only Marchand was inside the Fukuoka cut of 1:46.79.

It lowered his PB of 1:48.70 from the morning prelims and elevated him to third in French waters behind only Yannick Agnel (1:43.14) and Jeremy Stravius (1:45.61).

He said:

“It was nice. I wanted to win this race. The plateau was quite high and my best time was 1:48.70 so I didn’t have too many expectations. I built my race better than in the heats.

“I put less legs in the first 100m, which allowed me to finish well. I think I swam at my level but I had never really had the opportunity to swim this event.

“I had already been very quickly in short course in the United States. It’s difficult to confirm in the long course, it’s not an easy race but it’s a good start. We’ll have to swim faster. I think we manage to build a nice 4×200 m relay. We can aim for a podium this summer and we will all have to be at our best level.”

Anastasia Kirpichnikova Kazan

Anastasia Kirpichnikova: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia

Kirpichnikova – now holding French citizenship – added the 1500 to her 400 title to make it two swims so far in Fukuoka.

She won silver in the 800 and 1500 at the 2020 Europeans while representing Russia and was second in the 800 with the Russian Federation at the 2021 short-course worlds.

Now she has her eyes on Manaudou’s national mark, saying:

“Yes, I wanted to break the record. This competition is tough because it’s been a long time since I swam at a competition like this.

“But that’s life ! I hope I will do it at the World Championships. For me, it’s hard to swim alone, because I’ve been swimming alone for two years and I hope it will be more interesting in the big championships.

“I still have the 800m and maybe even the 200m.”

Elsewhere in Rennes, Charlotte Bonnet won the 200 breaststroke to claim her second title in as many days following her 200IM gold on Sunday although her time of 2:25.21 wasn’t enough to earn her a second swim in Fukuoka as yet.


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