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.
Looking at my own Twitter feed the word is already out on what happened during the finals in Paris. Obviously, there are plenty of ways you can get results faster than waiting for me to type up the post for SwimSwam on my phone in Paris. But what you can get only by visiting SwimSwam is the opinion of swim coach that many people think is too young and crazy. So I really hope you enjoy these reports, even though I might let you find some of the results on your own.
The afternoon in Paris started with the B-Finals of all events. Wasn’t exactly the most exciting way to start the meet, although the B-Final of the men’s 100 free had the most “foreign” athletes swimming. But at the end the French ended up on “top” with Amaury Leveaux taking the 9th-place “win” in 49.80 ahead of the two Russian sprinters.
Just as the distance ladies were about to walk out of the calling room for their 800 free a dark cloud over the pool brought about 10 minutes of heaving rain and some thunders. They had the people exit the stands all while the athletes continued their final preparations in the warm-up pool. There were short moment of doubt whether the organizers would be able to run the A-Finals or if they had to cancel the “real” final sessions.
Eventually, the competitors walked out for their 800 freestyle but with the short showers most people didn’t even realize that Camille Muffat was lined up for this final. Looking at her first 400 meters I wasn’t sure if maybe she was the sole swimmer to stop the warm-up during the showers just before. But it was probably her race plan to do what she recently did at the Mare Nostrum meets in her 400 freestyles – take it out real smooth and bring it home in a time that could win individual races elsewhere. Camille split an amazing 4:04 on her 2nd 400! Her final time of 8:23.60 is a personal best and ranks her 6th in the world this year and 23rd-best of all time!
But Camille didn’t have enough for today. Switching through the gears in the 800 was impressive but what she delivered in the 200 free only about 10 minutes later deserves the labeled “scary”. Some might think that after an 800 free this wouldn’t be an easy task, especially if you swam a 4:04 on your 2nd 400 meters. But she started her next race right where she left off the previous, at full speed, winning in a dominate 1:56.21 (splitting 28 on her last 50). And still, although I do think she worked a lot harder this evening and pushed it more, I don’t think she showed us what she’s capable of doing just yet. I heard a few people in the stands say that if she doesn’t win the 400 free in London, she probably decided not to swim it.
Just as this morning, Yannick Agnel took it out fast in the final of the 400 free in an opposite tact of Muffat. Going out just a little slower in 1:48 he did hold on for the win this time finishing in 3:51.97 and then came back at the very end of the meet to pull of the upset winning the 100 freestyle ahead of Jeremy Stravius and Aussie Matt Target.
Earlier in the session Target barely out-touched local sprint star Fred Bousquet by 0.1 of a second in the men’s 50 fly. Fabio Scozzoli won the men’s 50 breast ahead of French Olympian Giacomo Perez Dortona, by times of 27.73 – 27.77; Dortona continues to look better as the French’s new number-one breaststroker. But Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa finishing 3rd looked the “strongest” of the sprinters in that final in 27.86. This comes probably without a big surprise as he has explained the shift of his focus from the 50 breaststroke to the 100 leading up to the Olympics several times of the past year.
Laszlo Cseh also had his appearance in the 400 IM. His winning result of 4:13 is a great time, but he wasn’t pushed at any point during this 400 and it was very obvious that he just took this race as another stop on the road to London.
Michael Jamieson of Great Britain had a great 200 breaststroke out of lane 6, touching in 2:11.24 for the win.
Now don’t get me wrong and misinterprate my focus on the men’s side. There were other races on the women’s side…there just wasn’t quite anything left that could be more exciting than those first 20 minutes of the meet with Camille Muffat and her two races. But here’s a quick run down of what else happened today.
The women’s 50 free saw Dutch sprint Queen Marleen Veldhuis getting the better of Swedish sprint diva Therese Alshammar, both with sub 25″ efforts. It wasn’t a good looking swim by Marleen but sure got the job done. Many swim fans have Therese on their medal list for the 50 free at the Olympics, and although the outcome of the past Olympic Games aren’t in her favor, it’s probably about time she climbs the throne that she’s occupied for so many years now. Her stroke looked really good and with so many different countries participating it’s hard to know where exactly everyone is in their preparation/taper right now.
Marseille based Dutch sprinter Inge Dekker showed some speed taking out the 100 fly under World Record pace and eventually taking the win in 58.37, with Germany’s Alexandra Wenk being the only other sub 60″ effort.
Kirsty Coventry pulled off the double in the 200 IM (2:13.60) and 200 back (2:10.10) all within about 20 minutes. Her backstroke doesn’t look quite right yet as she seems to lack some of the front-end speed that used to get her ahead of the pack in the past. But her back half looks as strong if not stronger (splitting 31 on her last 50) as before. That 200 time is her best of the year, and though she was a bit faster in the IM in January, it doesn’t look as though she’s been held-back too badly by her knee injury.
I noticed that the SwimSwam readers are really active in participating in the discussions through the comments. So I thought, I end today’s report with some “bold” statements that hopefully get some discussion going.
1. Aussie Eamon Sullivan’s start doesn’t look as great in person as it does on TV.
2. Too many international female swimmers seem to have really weak starts.
3. Fred Busquet is just a class act! Patiently waited 40 minutes for a bus taking him back to the hotel and even had time to joke around with the volunteer officials of the meet – great athlete in and out of the pool!
Tomorrow should be another exciting day in Paris as a few other top athletes should join in on the fun.