2016 French Elite Nationals in Montpellier: Fan Guide – Womens Meet

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

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The French Elite Long Course National Championships will take place over 12 sessions from Tuesday, March 29 through Sunday, April 3 at the Antigone pool in Montpellier. The meet will also serve as the selection event to represent France at the 2016 Olympic Games. 807 swimmers (343 women and 464 men) representing 220 teams (of which 8 are foreign delegations) are ready to do battle.

Women’s Competition

Freestyle events

  • 50 free – French record: 24.58 8/1/2009 Rome (ITA), Malia Metella (27), Dauphins Toulouse OEC
  • French standard for Rio: 24.57

Defending champions Anna Santamans of Olympic Nice is the top seed with 24.71. Santamans is the French record-holder in short course meters, but has yet to lower LCM mark. She won this event in 24.82 last year, and over the three stages of Golden Tour, she went 25.02-24.95-24.97. Kelsi Worrell comes in seeded second with 25.01. Other names to keep an eye on are Mélanie Henique, who represents Amiens but trains in Marseille (25.39) and Béryl Gastaldello of Texas A&M, who swims for Marseille (25.39).

  • 100 free – French record: 53.49 4/24/2009 Montpellier (FRA), Malia Metella (27), Dauphins Toulouse OEC
  • French standard for Rio: 53.72

Charlotte Bonnet of Nice leads the qualifiers with 53.94, with Gastaldello just behind in 53.98. Their seed times come from their 1-2 finish at Elite Nationals last April. Bonnet swam the event at all stages of the Golden Tour, going 54.62-54.37-54.54. Worrell is seeded third at 54.73 but cannot swim in finals (only swimmers who can represent France in Rio are allowed to contest the 100 free and 200 free finals, as they serve as selection events for relays). Santamans is seeded fourth in 54.93.

  • 200 free – French record: 1:54.66 6/6/2012 Canet-en-Roussillon (FRA), Camille Muffat (23), Olympic Nice Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 1:56.78

This is Bonnet’s top event, and she has already been under the French standard this year with 1:56.73 in Amiens, the second stage of the Golden Tour. Seeded with 1:56.16, she is expected to win the event and qualify for Rio. Distance star Coralie Balmy, representing Montpellier Métropole, is seeded second in 1:57.49. Cloé Hache of Nice is third with 1:58.97.

  • 400 free – French record: 4:01.13 3/19/2012 Dunkerque (FRA), Camille Muffat (23), Olympic Nice Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 4:05.64

Balmy has had an impressive season so far and comes in with the top time by a mile, with 4:04.39. Besides Bonnet, Balmy is the only other French woman to have swum under France’s tough standards for Rio during this seaon. Femke Heemskerk of Netherlands, who trains with Balmy, is seeded second in 4:12.02, just ahead of Ophélie-Cyrielle Etienne (Lille Métropole)’s 4:12.06.

  • 800 free – French record: 8:18.80 3/31/2007 Melbourne (AUS), Laure Manaudou (21), Canet 66 Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 8:24.47

Balmy won this event in 8:31.10 last year and has already surpassed that time by 2 seconds during the current season. She is top seed with 8:29.18, ten seconds ahead of Etienne (8:39.08) and Julie Berthier of Mulhouse (8:41.72).

  • 1500 free – French record: 16:03.01 5/14/2006 Tour (FRA), Laure Manaudou (20), CN Melun Val de Seine

Another of Balmy’s training partners from Montpellier Métropole, defending champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal of Netherlands, is seeded first with 16:15.09. 2015 runner-up Berthier is second with her time from last year, 16:41.73. Also in contention are Coralie Codevelle of Sarcelles (16:43.94) and Adeline Furst of Obernai (16:43.96).

Backstroke events

  • 50 back – French record: 28.01 8/15/2015 Chartres (FRA), Béryl Gastaldello (20), CN Marseille

Although not qualifying events for Rio, 50 strokes are national title events. France has a good deal of young talent in the backstroke events. Defending champion Gastaldello heads the list with her 28.01 from last year’s nationals, while Mathilde Cini, who represents Valence, is just behind in 28.16. Camille Gheorghiu, swimming for Montpellier Métropole, comes in with 28.61 ahead of St-André’s Pauline Mahieu (28.68). Three more have 29-lows: Laurine Del’homme (CN Paris), Auriane De Premilhat (Marseille), and Emma Terebo (Calédoniens).

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

This should be one of the best events of the meet on the women’s side. Worrell leads the field with 1:00.37, but Gastaldello won in 1:00.54 last year and will give Worrell a run for her money. Cini (1:01.04) and Mahieu (1:01.21) are hoping to dethrone Gastaldello and earn at the very least a relay bid for Rio. Also in the mix are Gheorghiu (1:02.14), De Premilhat (1:02.44), and Heemskerk (1:02.59).

  • 200 back – French record: 2:06.64 4/26/2008 Dunkerque (FRA), Laure Manaudou (22), Mulhouse ON
  • French standard for Rio: 2:08.44

Gheorghiu comes in with the top qualifying time of 2:12.14, which is about 2/10 faster than her runner-up finish last year. Fantine Lesaffre, representing Mulhouse, is seeded second with 2:13.63. After Lesaffre the times fall off quite a bit.

  • 50 breast – French record: 30.96 4/22/2009 Montpellier (FRA), Sophie De Ronchi Turban (24), ES Massy Natation

Fanny Deberghes of ASPTT Montpellier (31.73) and Adeline Williams of Toulouse (31.85) are the top seeds in the 50 breast; they finished second and third behind Bonnet last year. Bonnet is not wasting any effort this year, though; she will only swim the 100/200 free and the 100 breast, hoping for a spot on the medley relay.

  • 100 breast – 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

Speaking of the 100 breast, Bonnet is the top seed with 1:08.34, her winning time from last year’s nationals. She hadn’t swum the event this season until the third and final leg of the Golden Tour, when she went 1:10.97 in prelims and 1:11.74 in finals. Bonnet has three pretenders to the throne right behind her, all of whom have been faster than Bonnet this season: Williams (1:09.44), Deberghes (1:09.60), and Coralie Dobral of Montpellier Métropole (1:09.84).

  • 200 breast – French record: 2:25.19 4/24/2009 Montpellier (FRA), Sophie De Ronchi Turban (24), ES Massy Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 2:23.78

While qualification for Rio is unlikely with a standard 1.4 seconds under the French record, the 200 breast should nonetheless be an exciting event. The field is tight at the top, with defending champion Deberghes (2:28.08), Lara Grangeon of Calédoniens (2:28.34), Adeline Martin of Antibes (2:28.69), Dobral (2:29.11), and Camille Dauba of Sarreguemines (2:29.45) all seeded within 1.4 seconds of each other.

  • 50 fly – French record: 25.86 7/30/2011 Shanghai (CHN), Mélanie Henique (19), Amiens Métropole Natation

Defending champion Gastaldello comes in seeded first with her winning time from 2015 (25.92). Last year’s runner up, Henique, is second with 26.02, .15 faster than a year ago. Nice’s Santamans is seeded third in 26.32, ahead of teammate Marie Wattel (26.46), third in this event a year ago.

  • 100 fly – French record: 56.89 7/27/2009 Rome (ITA), Aurore Mongel (27), Mulhouse ON
  • French standard for Rio: 57.67

American record-holder Worrell will try to replicate her recent SCY success at NCAAs with a LCM effort in Montpellier. She is seeded first with 57.24. Wattel is France’s top entry with 58.35, just ahead of Gastaldello (58.57). There is a wide gulf between the top three and the next tier represented by Justine Bruno of Beauvaisis and Hache, both of whom come in with 1:00.10. Armony Dumur, who swims at Wingate University and represents Fourmies, is seeded 12th in 1:01.78.

  • 200 fly – French record: 2:05.09 7/29/2009 Rome (ITA), Aurore Mongel (27), Mulhouse ON
  • French standard for Rio: 2:06.62

On paper this should be another exciting race: Grangeon leads the way in 2:07.98, with Worrell (2:08.61) and Wattel (2:09.87) eyeing the title as well.

  • 200 IM – French record: 2:09.37 4/26/2009 Montpellier (FRA), Camille Muffat (20), Olympic Nice Natation
  • French standard for Rio: 2:10.60

Grangeon’s top event is the 400 IM, but she comes in with the top seed time in the 200 IM as well with 2:13.27. Lesaffre (2:14.84) and Gastaldello (2:15.48) will challenge her for the title.

  • 400 IM – French record: 4:37.55 4/5/2015 Limoges (FRA), Lara Grangeon (24), CN Calédoniens
  • French standard for Rio: 4:35.40

After breaking the French national record in this event last year, Grangeon went on to final in the 400 IM at World Championships in Kazan, making her the only French woman to swim in an individual final. She is seeded first with her winning time from last year, while Lesaffre is seeded second with 4:38.88, four seconds faster than her third-place finish from 2015.

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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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