Now that the 2016 French Elite Nationals and Olympic Selection meet has concluded, there is a good deal of conjecture about who exactly will represent France at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
There has been quite a bit of discussion all week, among SwimSwam readers, but primarily in France, about the French Federation (FFN)’s tough qualifying criteria for Rio. Using the “build it and they will come” Field of Dreams philosophy, the FFN set standards that, should they be met, would allow them to constitute a team with better chances of medaling in Rio. This came about partially in response to an underwhelming performance, especially by the French women, at World Championships in Kazan.
As we noted when we published the Rio times that the FFN released last September, national women’s team director Fabrice Pellerin lamented in a post-Kazan interview with Agence France-Presse that the French women seemed satisfied just swimming in semi-finals; they weren’t up to their international counterparts in putting together the big swims that would put them in finals. Charlotte Bonnet, who had won everything at French Elite Nationals last April and was the hope of the French women’s team, didn’t make one final in Kazan, for example. The men, on the other hand, earned six medals in Kazan.
The FFN gave itself a very small back door, however, by announcing that the National Technical Director (DTN), Jacques Lefavre, would have the discretion at the end of the meet to add up to 6 men and 6 women to the roster, based on how close their swims were to the French standards, as long as they had achieved FINA A times.
- Charlotte Bonnet, 200 free, 1:56.32
- Coralie Balmy, 400 free, 4:05.38
- 4×100 free relay, 3:37.58: Bonnet, Béryl Gastaldello, Mathilde Cini, Anna Santamans
Consideration list (FINA A swims, in order of nearness to French standard):
- Anna Santamans, 50m free, 99.92%
- Coralie Balmy, 200m free, 99.66%
- Charlotte Bonnet, 100m free, 99.61%
- Lara Grangeon, 400m IM, 99.56%
- Béryl Gastaldello, 100m free, 99.30%
- Coralie Balmy, 800m free, 99.18%
- Lara Grangeon, 200m fly, 99.02%
- Marie Wattel, 100m fly, 98.78%
- Béryl Gastaldello, 100m fly, 98.61%
- Fantine Lesaffre, 400m IM, 98.45%
- Lara Grangeon, 200m IM, 98.43%
- Mélanie Henique, 50m free, 97.77%
- Fantine Lesaffre, 200m IM, 97.48%
Having already qualified for individual events, both Coralie Balmy and Charlotte Bonnet are eligible to add complementary events, as long as they achieve the FINA A standards. Balmy, then, could swim both the 200 and 800 frees in Rio, while Bonnet could add the 100 free. She could not, however, swim the 100 breast, as she failed to achieve a FINA A cut.
That puts Anna Santamans and Béryl Gastaldello at the top of the list. And yet they both already qualify through the 400 free relay. It’s unclear whether or not their names would take up two spaces on “The List of 6.” Lara Grangeon’s 400 IM, Marie Wattel’s 100 fly, Fantine Lesaffre’s 400 IM, and Mélanie Henique’s 50 free would be next in line for entry in individual events based on Montpellier.
On the one hand, the women’s side is much easier to predict because only eight women total swam to FINA A time standards. On the other hand, they all have another chance to make the cuts to qualify for relays at the European Championships next month.
You can play with your own scenarii below: