Strong Start to French National Championships

TOURS, France, May 11. THE first day of the French Championships featured a national record in the women's 200-meter butterfly and a strong showing from Laure Manaudou in the 800 freestyle. Sarah Bey roared to victory in the 200 fly as her 2:09.84 effort marked the first sub-2:10 clocking in French history. The times was good for a 1.49-second triumph and edged Manaudou for top swim of the opening day.

A triple-Olympic medalist from the Athens Games in 2004, Manaudou notched an easy victory in the 800 freestyle, thanks to her winnng time of 8:25.42. Considered one of the female distance freestylers to have any chance of challenging Janet Evans' world record in the event, along with American Kate Ziegler, Manaudou was followed to the wall by Sophie Huber (8:35.39). As for the men's event, it turned into a two-man show between Nicolas Rostoucher and Sebastien Rouault. Rostoucher was timed in a championship record of 7:52.82, ahead of the 7:56.32 of Rouault.

Auburn product Fred Bousquet, the only man to crack the 19-second barrier in the 50-yard free, won the 50-meter distance in 22.30, slightly faster than the 22.32 of Alain Bernard. Malia Metella won the women's version of the event in 25.17 and Christophe Lebon prevailed in the 200 butterfly with a mark of 1:59.91. Pierre Roger was the second-place finisher as he touched the wall in 2:00.24.