2016 French Elite Nationals in Montpellier: Day 2 Finals Live Recap

2016 French Elite Long Course National Championships and Olympic Trials Selection Meet

  • Dates: Tuesday, March 29 – Sunday, April 3, 2016
  • Times: prelims 9:00 am, finals 6:15 pm
  • Location: Montpellier, France (GMT +1, or 6 hours ahead of N.Y., 9 ahead of L.A.)
  • Live results: Available
  • Live streaming: Available on beIN Sports
  • Championship Central

Women’s 400 Meter Freestyle – Final

  • French record: 4:01.13 3/19/2012 Dunkerque (FRA), Camille Muffat (23), Olympic Nice Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 4:05.64 (FINA A 4:09.08)
  • French standard for Europe: 4:09.84

Coralie Balmy (Montpellier Métropole/Antibes), who is having perhaps the best season of her career at 28 years old, became the first name on the FFN’s roster for Rio with a 4:05.38. Balmy had been 4:04.58 in Amiens on the second stop of the Golden Tour, and after a disappointing Day 1 for French Rio hopefuls, the crowd was behind Balmy. A true distance swimmer, Balmy has a strong back half. She took it out a little faster than in Amiens and then, all alone in the middle of the pool with no one to keep pushing her, she seemed to fall off pace. It looked like she may go the way of Damien Joly in the 1500 yesterday, but Balmy had a strong finish and made the standard.

  Montpellier Amiens
100 58.35 59.04
200 1:02.30 / 2:00.65 1:01.86 / 2:00.90
300 1:02.77 / 3:03.42 1:02.13 / 3:03.03
400 1:01.96 / 4:05.38 1:01.55 / 4:04.58

Femke Heemskerk of Netherlands, who trains with Philippe Lucas and swims for Montpellier Métropole, finished second with 4:10.85, bettering her seed time by 1.3 seconds. Ophélie-Cyrielle Etienne (Lille Métropole/Marseille) took third in 4:11.94, about 1/10 faster than her entry time.

Fantine Lesaffre of Mulhouse (4:12.40), Marion Abert of Toulouse (4:12.85), Alizée Morel of Nice (4:12.99) came in together in the next wave. Coralie Codevelle of Sarcelles (4:15.53) and Mulhouse’s Julie Berthier (4:15.93) rounded out the championship final.

Men’s 200 Meter Breaststroke – Final

  • French record: 2:08.94 8/14/2008 Beijing (CHN), Hugues Duboscq (27), CN Le Havre 14/08/2008
  • French standard for Rio: 2:09.65 (FINA A 2:11.66)
  • French standard for Europe: 2:12.08

The 200 breaststroke had a surprise ending. Everyone expected top seed Thomas Dahlia of Antibes to defend his 2015 national title; the question was whether or not he could go a best time and earn his place on the French team for Rio. In the end, though, it was his Antibes teammate William Debourges who out-touched everyone at the end with a winning time of 2:12.85. Debourges took it out fast and had to fight to keep Dahlia and Thibaut Capitaine of Cergy Pontoise Natation from overtaking him over the last 10 meters. Capitaine earned the silver medal with 2:12.88 and Dahlia picked up the bronze with 2:13.13. It was quite the event for Capitaine, who came in with 2:16.12.

18-year-old Jean Dencausse of Marseille was fourth with 2:13.84, .11 of his lifetime best. Quentin Callais of Canet 66/Font-Romeu  went 2:14.55 for fifth, ahead of Quentin Coton of Antibes (2:14.77), Tunisian Talal M’rabet, who trains at Stade Français O Courbevoie (2:14.98), and Yann Quiertant of Courbevoie (2:16.21).

Women’s 100 Meter Breast – Final

  • French record: 1:07.97 3/23/2011 Strasbourg (FRA), Sophie De Ronchi Turban (26), ES Massy Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 1:06.93 (FINA A 1:07.85)
  • French standard for Europe: 1:08.52

The second surprise of the evening came in the women’s 100 breast, when defending champion Charlotte Bonnet of Nice was edged over the last 20 meters by 2015 runner-up Fanny Deberghes. Deberghes, who swims for ASPTT Montpellier, got a burst of energy from the home crowd and dropped 1 second off her previous personal best to win in 1:08.61. Bonnet finished second in 1:08.88. Although Bonnet specializes in the 100 and 200 freestyles, she nonetheless would have been hoping to swim the breast on a French medley relay, should they qualify for Rio. Coralie Dobral (Montpellier Métropole) picked up a bronze medal with 1:09.43, her best time by 4/10. Camille Dauba of CN Sarreguemines went a lifetime-best 1:09.67 to finish fourth.

Adeline Martin of Antibes took fifth with 1:10.43. She was followed by Sophie De Ronchi Turban (Vallauris) with 1:10.46, Adeline Williams (Toulouse) with 1:10:56, and Nolwenn Herve (Canet 66/Font-Romeu) with 1:10.78.

Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle – A Flight

  • French record: 1:43.14 7/30/2012 London (GBR), Yannick Agnel (20), Olympic Nice Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 1:46.06 (FINA A 1:47.97)
  • French standard for Europe: 1:48.70

The race of the night was not a disappointment in the excitement it produced, but it brought about a new wave of discussion about France’s qualifying standards for Rio. The first abnormality came about in prelims, when defending Olympic champion Yannick Agnel didn’t touch the pad correctly at the finish and seemed to swim 1:49, barely making it into the A final. The officials reviewed the pad and watch times and assigned a 1:48.60 to Agnel, placing him fourth in prelims and giving him lane 6 for the final. Top qualifier Jérémy Stravius of Amiens was in lane 4, while Jordan Pothain of Club Nautique Alp’38 was between them in lane 5, having qualified second.

Stravius took it out right away and hit the 50 wall in 24.22. Agnel pulled even with Stravius at the 100 wall; they turned at 51.4 to Pothain’s 51.7. Agnel killed the third 50 and pulled ahead at the 150 wall, heading into the final 50 with a half-body length lead. Coming down the stretch it was anyone’s game, but Stravius, who had practiced coming home in a sub-27 in his 200 IM in prelims on Day 1, blew them all away with a final 26.70. Stravius clocked a winning 1:46.18, the fourth-fastest time in the world so far this season, but failed to meet France’s standard to swim the individual event in Rio.

But the controversy didn’t end there. Agnel, though edged by Stravius, clearly touched second. Yet as in the morning he didn’t touch the pad correctly and Pothain’s 1:46.81 came up as the number two finish. Agnel was assigned 1:46.99 for third. All three times are among the world’s ten fastest for the season. While the medals were given in the order of pad times (Stravius-Pothain-Agnel) the discussion is ongoing at the officials’ table.

2015-2016 LCM Men 200 Free

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The rest of the final consisted of Lorys Bourelly (Dauphins Toulouse) with 1:47.83, Clément Mignon (1:48.00) and Grégory Mallet (1:48.45) of Marseille, Jonathan Atsu (Dauphins Toulouse) with 1:48.83, and Simon Guerin of Amiens (1:49.98).

Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke – A Flight

  • 100 back – French record: 59.50 3/20/2008 Eindhoven (NED), Laure Manaudou (22), Canet 66 Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 59.48 (FINA A 1:00.25)
  • French standard for Europe: 1:01.40

The 100 back provided a bittersweet end to the night’s final session, as Marseille’s Béryl Gastaldello won the title with a personal best of 1:00.26 but fell short of both France’s very difficult 59.48 and FINA’s 1:00.25. Camille Gheorghiu (Montpellier Métropole/Antibes) had another great swim; after dropping .7 in the morning heats she took another .7 off in finals, clocking a best-by-1.4 1:00.74.

Kelsi Worrell finished third in 1:01.39, just ahead of Mathilde Cini (Valence Triathlon/Marseille)’s 1:01.64.

Emma Terebo of Calédoniens was fifth with 1:02.29. Pauline Mahieu (St-André/Font-Romeu) went 1:02.49 for sixth. Fanny Danet (Paul-Bert Rennes) touched seventh in 1:03.57, just ahead of SPN Poitiers’ Laura Savariau (1:03.72).


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6 years ago

I don’t understand the concept of having another set of qualifying times much tougher than the fina A unless the federation’s goal is to severely limit the size of the squad and limit the amount of Olympic finalists and medalists !

Jay ryan
6 years ago

Devil’s Island still open?

6 years ago

Bobo…. you must lead a revolution to get rid of the idiots in the French Swimming Federation. do these folks not understand the swimming world is laugh at them and at the same time crying for the swimmers! just a shame for these athletes who have worked so hard!

David Berkoff
6 years ago

There’s this crazy old adage: “you have to show up to win.” The French won’t be in Rio so it’s going to be pretty hard to determine whether these cuts really worked! I’m just bewildered by the stupidity of this federation.

6 years ago

A quick consideration about cut times shows that if French federation had chosen the Fina A cut, only in two races among today’s 5 races, swimmers would have been successful: Balmy in the women 400 free and the first and second of the men 200 free.

The Fina A times would have been widely enough to ensure a tough selection considering the real level of French Swimming in many races.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom 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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