Nico Messer was born and raised in Switzerland, and is currently the head coach for Vevey Natation. He has spent time working as an assistant with the famed Race Club program in the Florida Keys, and is a former elite-level swimmer himself. He is on deck this week at the Paris Open giving us first-hand accounts and feel from what he sees with his own eyes. His website can be found here. You can also follow him on Twitter @aquadonis.
Walking out of the hotel something changed…the weather. It was notably warmer than in the morning or even around noon, and the rain seemed to have gone over the Bois de Boulogne as well. Of course I noticed because I had to wait outside for the bus to pick us up. But mostly because two of my athletes that got on this first bus ride to the pool to prepare for their swims had a slight change in how they expressed their excitement to step on the blocks one last time.
As we made it to the pool something was in the air…first it seemed like it were the full stands of French swimming fans but unfortunately, it was just a little more rain. Although the showers this afternoon were light and inconsistent, it wasn’t the conditions you would want for athletes competing in finals.
Yesterday the afternoon session started with the women’s 800 free where to everyone’s surprise Camille Muffat put on a show. Today the men kicked off the final session in Paris with the mile. And something in me was hoping to see Yannick Agnel walk out for that 1500 free. To cut a 15 minutes and 28 seconds story short, he didn’t and the crowd really only got into the race cheering on the swimmers in their last 100 meters. I guess what happened is none of the swimmers wanted to make a move and so they swam lined up, adapting their pace to the “weakest” athlete in the field. And we all know that those seconds can add up fast over 1500 meters. French Olympian Damien Joly was your first winner today.
Except for the women’s 50 breaststroke, the dashes didn’t disappoint this afternoon! Therese Alshammar got the better of Inge Dekker in the women’s 50 fly with a 25.66 for the win. Camille Lacourt was in a league of his own, taking the 50 back in 25.09. Though that wasn’t a season-best for him, it was well ahead of fellow country men Dorian Gandin touching second in 25.89.
Aussie Matt Target out-touched Florent Manaudou by only 0.01 of a second, 22.14-22.15 for the win in the men’s 50 free. Fred Bousquet was in the hunt for the win as well winding up 3rd in 22.22, and Alain Bernard not far behind that either in 22.28.
Yannick Agnel was leading the charge as the French went 1-2-3 in the 200 free final. Agnel for the win in 1:46.09 ahead of Stravius and Lefert in 1:48.68 and 1:48.69 respectively. That wasn’t quite the show that we’ve seen from Agnel this year, though it’s not a bad time either (just a few tenths behind what Phelps and Lochte swam rested at Trials last week).
Italian Fabio Scozzoli doubled up with his win in the men’s 100 breast, finishing in a strong 1:00.88 to Cameron van der Burgh’s 1:00.96.
Jason Dunford filled his tank with confidence before the London 100 fly with a 52.55 to Pawel Korzeniowski’s 53.31.
The highlight of the second final session must have been Anastasia Zueva’s win in the 100 back. While she didn’t only take it out faster than anyone else, she was the swimmer who had enough left to bring it home strong and touch the wall in 59.40. That’s a phenomenal time three weeks out for the world number two.
Laszlo Cseh cruised to another IM victory in the 200 today in 1:58.30, adding to his 400 from Friday. Spaniard Judith Ignacio defended the top spot in the women’s 200 fly lowering her time from the morning by 3″; touching in 2:08.77.
In the women’s 200 free, Camille Muffat seemed to be about spent after her strong showing yesterday. Up to the last 50 (splitting 28.26), she just comfortably cruised in front of the field to take the win in 1:56.21. By most standards, that’s a phenomenal time by most standards, but it’s almost hard to be excited by anything she does anymore that doesn’t involve an Olympic-finals worthy closing split. She also won the 400 free in 4:04.82 – which is nearly dead-on the closing 400 meters of her 800 from Friday. That’s a strong indicator of where she was on day 2 of this meet. She did still get a negative split in, which a 2:02.5-2:01.9.
In the men’s 200 back, Benjamin Stasiulis had more competition than expected after this morning’s swim. He was up to the task, though, and took the win over German Jan Philip Glania in 2:00.10 to 2:00.70.
Femke Heemskerk held off her training partner Inge Dekker in the 100 free, the last race of the day in 54.88 to a 55.23.
Completely different from my own athletes I didn’t come prepared to this meet in Paris to report for SwimSwam. Actually, I didn’t even know I would be asked to do this. So hopefully next time I’ll be given the chance to report for SwimSwam, I’ll be better prepared and will be able to bring you some videos as well. Signing off from Paris and the EDF Open de Natation.