Explanation of French Olympic Qualifying: Swimmers must ultimately pass under the FINA A-time in finals to earn an individual swim for the 2012 Olympics, but in many events there are certain standards that need to be met in each of the earlier rounds as well, so no loafing through prelims is allowed. Swimmers, even if they don’t hit those intermediary times, can still earn relay swims by winning in finals, where applicable. The French Federation does have the ability to make exceptions, but is generally very strict.
For a full list of French Olympic Qualifying Standards, go to this handbook and scroll to page 3. NL = Freestyle, Dos = Backstroke, Brasse = Breaststroke, Papillon = Butterfly, 4N = IM.
Day 3 continued the trend of fast swimming in less-than-perfect conditions in Dunkerque, with two more French Records being broken: one by Yannick Agnel, and one my Camille Muffat. Even more, a successful comeback was continued by a French legend, and a 2011 World Champion failed to make the team.
Men’s 200 Free – Final
Olympic Qualification: final-1:47.82
Yannick Agnel has now looked like he’s made exactly the right decision in dropping the 400 free from his Olympic schedule to focus on the shorter events. He took the title, an Olympic spot, and a new French Record in the 200 free with a 1:44.42 in Tuesday’s finals. That broke his old mark of 1:44.99 that was set at last year’s World Championships.
This time was actually faster than anyone else in the world has been in the last two years (it still misses Phelps’ 2007 textile best of 1:43.8), and now suddenly the conversation for the 200 free gold medal expands beyond Lochte-Phelps.
Agnel went out fairly fast (24.48) to show off his new speed-focus, and then nearly even-split the last three 50’s at 26.6-26.8-26.6. You now have to imagine that he’s certainly capable of a 48 very low (if not a 47 high) in the 100 free.
Behind Agnel was Amaury Leveaux in 1:46.72, which is the 2nd-best time of his career and enough to earn an individual swim as well. He hasn’t been under a 1:49 in this event since 2009, and now has two great swims under his belt in this meet. He’s a veritable-lock to at least make the 400 free relay, if not an individual swim in the 100.
The pair will be joined in the relay by Gregory Mallet (1:46.77) and Clement lefert (1:46.90). The 5th-place finisher Romain Magula, swam a 1:49.72. That’s an outstanding time for a swimmer who’s only 20-years old, but is probably not enough to entice a relay alternate spot for London.
Women’s 200 Free – Semifinal
Olympic Qualification: Finals – 1:58.33
This 200 free, even though just a semi-final, gets billing over the backstroke finals, because here Camille Muffat broke a French Record already with a 1:55.40. That just snuck under Laure Manaudou’s time from the 2007 World Championships of 1:55.52.
Muffat now moves into the top 10 in history in this event, though she still sits behind Sarah Sjostrom in this year’s rankings. This was after a pure-cruise in prelims at 2:00.94. She went out very hard in this swim and fell off the pace by the last 50. Given what we saw in the longer 400, and have seen from Muffat in this race in the past, she should be closing a few tenths better than the 30.0 she did in this race.
Charlotte Bonnet (1:58.80), Coralie Balmy (1:59.37), and Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne (1:59.42) are all within striking distance of that Olympic qualifying mark as well.
Indiana Hoosier Margaux Farrell and Mylene Lazare both swam 2:02-low’s, which puts them in position to pick off one of those 1:59’s in the finals and snatch a relay spot.
Women’s 100 Backstroke
Olympic Qualification: Prelims-1:02.70|semis-1:01.36|finals-1:00.82
France’s Laure Manaudou fared much better in this race than did her Australian comeback counterparts, as she nailed down her Olympic spot by way of her victory in this women’s 100 backstroke in 1:00.16.
That swim is not too far off of the times she was swimming pre-retirement (and pre Speedo LZR) – she only broke the minute mark once outside of the partial-rubber paramenters. This time is about (a tenth slower) as fast as she went in the three rounds in Beijing. Manaudou, though on a different event schedule, might be ultimately almost as fast as she was before retirement (in fairness, she’s a couple of years younger than many of the other swimmers we’ve seen coming out of retirement).
Joining her in London will be Alexianne Castel, who cleared the required standard with a 1:00.56. That’s slower than she was in the semi-final’s, but gives the French women a great 1-2 punch in this race. Manaudou and Castel end this meet sitting 6th and 9th in the world in this event. The 200 should be an awesome battle.
Men’s 100 Back – Final
Olympic Qualification: Final-54.40
Camille Lacourt won the 100 back title in 52.75 to zoom past Liam Tancock for the top spot in the world rankings. Nobody other than Lacourt himself has been a 52.75 in the last two-plus seasons, so he probably feels confident about his gold-medal chances.
One of the world’s few swimmers who seemed to have the talent to catch Lacourt, however, failed to qualify. Jeremy Stravius (the man with whom Lacourt tied at last year’s World Championships) fell to 3rd place in this final in only a 54.05 and will thus be out of the Olympics, for the event at least. With Hugues Duboscq in the 100 breast, that’s the second time in the three days of this meet that we’ve seen a painful miss.
He was instead edged by Benjamin Stasiulis who touched in 53.98, which is good enough for the Olympic qualifying mark. That’s a solid time for him – the 3rd-best of his career – and was about three-tenths better than anything he put up in 2011. Still, Stravius should have easily been able to go 53-mid and make this team, so big disappointment there.
Dorian Gandin took 4th in 55.10, and Eric Ress (who skipped the American college season for this meet) came up short in his first attempt with a 55.19 (his better shot will be the 200).
Men’s 200 Fly – Semis
Olympic Qualifications: prelims-2:00.50|semis-1:58.69|Finals-1:56.86
There was no Clement Lefert in this 200 fly, as he focused on trying to earn an individual swim in the 200 free. That left 19-year old newcomer Jordan Coelho as the only swimmer who is still in the running for an Olympic spot with a 1:57.63 in the semifinals. He’ll have to knock another 8-tenths off in the finals if he wants a swim in London (he’s been closer than this swim last summer, but still would neex .6 from his lifetime best).
Women’s 200 IM – Semis
Olympic Qualifications: semis-2:15.03|finals-2:13.36
Lara Grangeon, the defending National Champion in this race, was by far the only swimmer to make the French standard in the semi-finals as she took the top seed in 2:13.9. She’s already got a spot in the 400 IM, but will need to be a bit faster in the final of this race to add a second.
The benefit for Grangeon is that there’s enough good front-half swimmers in this race (Sophie de Ronchi, Julie Fourtier) to give her a pace-rabbit on the first 100 meters. De Ronchi could even keep it relatively close until the 150, just in time for that last shot of adrenaline and Grangeon’s impressive closing speed.