2015 French Long Course Nationals in Limoges: Women Outshine Men on Day One

2015 French Long Course National Championships

  • Dates: Tuesday, March 31 – Sunday, April 5, 2015
  • Times: prelims 9:00 am, semis/ finals 4:45 pm
  • Location: Limoges, France (GMT +1, or 6 hours ahead of N.Y., 9 ahead of L.A.)
  • Results: Available
  • Championship Central

In a reversal of roles, it was the French women who put forward the most interesting performances on the first day of the 2015 French Long Course National Championships in Limoges. A good deal of attention has been accorded the men over the last several years, while commentators seem to lament the state of women’s swimming in the Hexagone, but the first session of the meet told a different story.

After a film tribute to Camille Muffat produced by the French Federation (FFN), Tuesday’s finals opened to a large crowd at the brand new Aquapolis. This year’s French Long Course Nationals are doubling as the selection meet for the team that will represent France at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia. The FFN’s selection criteria are that a swimmer must achieve the Kazan qualifying standard for each event, and must do so in the A final. Up to 2 swimmers can be chosen per event.

Women’s 100 Butterfly

  • French Record: Aurore Mongel (Mulhouse), 56.59, 2009
  • 2014 National Champion: Camille Muffat (Nice), 58.54
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 58.90

THAT’s the way to start a National Championship meet. France qualified its first two swimmers for Kazan in the very first event.

Marie Wattel of Nice, who had produced the top qualifying time this morning with 58.67, and Béryl Gastaldello of Marseille, who had a great NCAA meet in everything BUT the 100 fly, went head-to-head for 100 meters and both punched their tickets to Kazan.

Wattel was out in 26.93, with Gastaldello right behind her in 27.32. The two battled it out over the second 50 meters and both came to the wall largely under the cutoff time of 58.90. The two women achieved best times, with Wattel touching first in 58.35 and Gastaldello following in 58.57.

The rest of the championship final was just as exciting. Justine Bruno of Beauvaisis and Cloé Hache of Nice tied for third place in 1:00.10. Bruno and Hache both went best times, as well; Hache dropped 2.2 seconds between prelims and finals to make the podium.

Margaux Fabre of Montauban (1:00.81), Mélanie Henique of Amiens/Marseille (1:01.34), Emma Morel of Toulouse (1:01.73), and Armony Dumur of Fourmies (1:01.82) rounded out the final.

Men’s 400 Freestyle

  • French Record: Yannick Agnel (then-Nice), 3:43.85, 2011
  • 2014 National Champion: Yannick Agnel (then-Nice), 3:49.65
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 3:49.50

After the euphoria of the first event, the men’s 400 free was a bit disappointing in that Damien Joly of Antibes, who had already achieved a Kazan qualifying time with his big drop in prelims, added 1.5 seconds in finals and just missed the mark. Joly had come in with 3:51.81, then gone 3:48.86 this morning to lead the qualifiers for finals.

Joly won the event in 3:50.05, a half-second off the Kazan mark. Runner-up was Jordan Pothain of Nautic Club Alp 38 with 3:52.30. The bronze medal went to Toulouse’s Joris Bouchaut in 3:52.95.

Benoît Debast of Sarcelles (3:53.44), Nicolas D’Oriano from Toulouse (3:53.83), Anthony Pannier of Sarcelles (3:54.63), Jean-Baptiste Febo of Nice (3:54.82), and Marc-Antoine Olivier of Denain (3:55.37) made up the rest of the championship final.

Women’s 200 Individual Medley

  • French Record: Camille Muffat (Nice), 2:09.37, 2009
  • 2014 National Champion: Evelyn Verraszto, HUN (Nice), 2:11.86
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 2:13.98

The women of France have come to race, there is no question about that. Nice’s Charlotte Bonnet ripped a lifetime-best 2:12.14 to win the 200 IM and qualify easily for Kazan. Third after the breaststroke leg, Bonnet came home in a blazing 30-high to out-touch both second-place Evelyn Verraszto of Hungary (and Nice) and Lara Grangeon of Cadédoniens.

Bonnet went out like she was shot out of a cannon. She led by a half-second after the fly but trailed by a second after the back. At that point, Verraszto led and Grangeon, the morning’s top qualifier, was second. Bonnet moved ahead of Verraszto in the breast and was within .14 of the leader, Grangeon, leading into the final 50. Bonnet raced for the finish, while Verraszto came home with a 30-low to wind up with the silver medal in 2:12.32. Grangeon was third, but her 2:13.27 also put her on the plane to Kazan.

Fourth place went to Fantine Lesaffre of Mulhouse with 2:16.00. She was followed by Julie Fourtier of Guyancourt (2:18.32), 14-year-old Cyrielle Duhamel of Béthune (2:19.96), Morgane Rothon of Dijon (2:20.70), and Alice Aubry of Châlons (2:22.39).

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

  • French Record: Hugues Duboscq (Le Havre), 58.64, 2009
  • 2014 National Champion: Giacomo Perez-Dortona (Marseille), 1:01.20
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 1:00.44

Marseille’s Giacomo Perez Dortona went a season-best 1:00.31 to win the men’s final and secure his spot on the Kazan squad. He came in with a seed time of 1:00.38 but had to repeat in finals for it to count. Second-place went to Antibes’ Thomas Dahlia, fresh off the plane from Iowa City, in a best time of 1:01.32. His Antibes teammate, Quentin Coton, was just behind at 1:01.70 for third.

The rest of the field was tightly-bunched. Jean Dencausse, considered the future of French breaststroke, who has been in Marseille since the start of the season, finished fourth in 1:02.00, just a tick off his qualifying time. He was followed by Thibaut Capitaine of Cergy Pontoise (1:02.46), Thomas Rabeisen of Antibes (1:02.48), William Debourges, also of Antibes (1:02.49), and Milik Fall of Senegal/Courbevoie (1:02.91).

Women’s 400 Freestyle

  • French Record: Camille Muffat (Nice), 4:01.13, 2012
  • 2014 National Champion: Camille Muffat (Nice), 4:07.14
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 4:09.80

The morning’s top qualifier, Sharon Van Rouwendaal of Netherlands/Sarcelles, improved by 4.1 seconds to win the women’s 400 in 4:05.73. The French champion of the event was Coralie Balmy (still under license with Mulhouse but training in Antibes) whose 4:07.51 made the cutoff for qualification for Kazan. Ophélie-Cyrielle Etienne occupied the third step of the podium, dropping 2.7 seconds from her seed time to go 4:12.96. Etienne competes for Lille at this meet but is in the training group in Marseille.

Nice’s Alizée Morel went 4:13.92 for fourth place. She was followed by Julie Berthier of Mulhouse (4:15.35), Adeline Furst of Obernai (4:18.30), Coralie Codevelle of Sarcelles (4:19.49), and Léa Marchal of Besançon (4:19.64).

Men’s 50 Butterfly

  • French Record: Frédérick Bousquet (Marseille), 22.84, 2009
  • 2014 National Champion: Florent Manaudou (Marseille), 23.25
  • Kazan Qualifying Time: 23.53

Defending champion Florent Manaudou of Marseille repeated his 2014 title with a 23.37 in the final of the men’s 50 fly. After his lifetime-best 23.47 in prelims, Fabien Gilot, also of Marseille had a disappointing final, touching in 24.22 for sixth place. The FFN’s Kazan qualifying criteria state that only times out of the “A” finals will be considered for selection. The rest of the podium consisted of Marseille teammate Frédérick Bousquet (23.78) and Yonel Govindin of Toulouse (23.87).

Paul Lemaire of Toulouse was fourth in 24.15, just 1/100 ahead of Paul Pijulet of Pontault-Roissy (but training in Paris-INSEP) (24.16). After Gilot, Jordan Coelho of Vanves (also at Paris-INSEP) went 24.48 and Louis Marceline of Béthune (training in Dunkerque) was 24.74.


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5 years ago

Here’s the film tribute to Muffat:


I set my VPN location to France, so not sure if the video works for everyone.

bobo gigi
Reply to  aswimfan
5 years ago

Aswimfan, that’s just a very little part of the video.

bobo gigi
5 years ago

I will not post it, of course . . . 🙂 but everyone can easily find a link to watch day 1 on many live stream sport sites. 😳

bobo gigi
5 years ago

The tribute in video to Camille Muffat just before the start of the session was very moving.

In her honor I post that amazing and touching version of Fields of Gold by another young woman who has gone much too early as well.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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