2024 Mare Nostrum Canet: Day 1 Prelims Saw Grousset Take Two Top Seeds


The 2024 Mare Nostrum Tour kicked off this morning from Canet with a plethora of international stars competing in the 2-day affair.

This morning’s prelims saw the nation of Japan make its presence known, capturing 3 top seeds out of the heats, including the women’s 100m breast, men’s 400m IM and men’s 200m free.

In the 100m breast, it was national record holder Reona Aoki who claimed lane 4 for tonight’s final, registering a time of 1:07.21.

She’ll be flanked this evening by Swedish maestro Sophie Hanson who registered 1:07.67 while British swimmer Kara Hanlon was also sub-1:08 in a morning mark of 1:07.70 as the 3rd seed.

Aoki owns a season-best of 1:05.76 to rank 7th in the world this season, with the time qualifying her for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey was 6th in the 100m breast, hitting 1:08.33 before she also raced the 200m free. In the latter contest, the two-time Olympic silver medalist reaped the top spot in 1:58.18, holding a healthy advantage over the next-closest competitor Valentine Dumont of Belgium who hit 1:59.38.

Additional 200m free qualifiers include 4th-seeded Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands, the reigning 100m free world champion, and Hungary’s Nikolett Padar who logged 1:59.94.

Steenbergen dove in earlier in the women’s 200m IM where she snagged the 2nd seed in a casual 2:12.61 behind leader Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel who notched 2:11.02.

Both represent the national record holders in this event, with Steenbergen owning a lifetime best of 2:08.86 from last month’s Eindhoven Qualification Meet while Gorbenko owns a PB and Israeli standard of 2:09.28 from the Monte Carlo stop of last year’s Tour.

Of note, reigning Olympic champion Yui Ohashi was also among the field, claiming the 4th seed in 2:14.16 behind teammate Shiho Matsumoto (2:13.90) and ahead of 17-year-old Mio Narita (2:14.75). Spanish 200m fly Olympic champion from 2016, Mireia Belmonte, placed 12th in 2:21.19.

Going back to Japan, Tomoyuki Matsushita produced a morning swim of 4:20.01 as the top men’s 400m IMer and Hidekazu Takahara posted the sole sub-2:00 outing of the men’s 200m back in 1:58.62.

At the Japanese Olympic Trials this past March, Takehara put up the swim of his life to qualify for the Olympic Games in this event. The 19-year-old ripped a time of 1:56.28 to knock well over half a second off the 1:56.93 previous PB he established at the 2023 World Championships Trials.

The 2023 World Championships gold medalist in the men’s 100m fly, Maxime Grousset, was in the water in his pet event. The 25-year-old notched a result of 51.63 to beat the Netherlands’ Nyls Korstanje in the opening round.

Japan’s Olympic qualifier in the 200m fly, Genki Terakado, nabbed the 3rd seed in 52.35 and Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen dropped the 50m back to focus on this event where he touched in 52.45 for 4th.

South African Olympic champion Chad Le Clos (52.69) and Japan’s 200m fly world champion Tomoru Honda (52.74) also made the top 8.

The men’s 100m fly is one of the most competitive on the planet. At the moment, it takes a time of 51.06 to rank among the top 10 performers thus far this season, with newly-minted Canadian champion and Olympic qualifier Josh Liendo holding the fastest time in the world at a scorching 50.06.

Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto opted out of the event today but owns the 7th-quickest result in the world, courtesy of the 50.96 he posted at Japan’s Trials to make the grade for Paris.

Grousset earlier raced the men’s 50m free where he also claimed the #1 seed. He turned in a time of 22.24 ahead of Trinidad & Tobago national record holder Dylan Carter who hit 22.49.

Hong Kong’s Ian Ho is in the mix with 22.60 while Ukraine’s 50m fly world record holder Andrii Govorov was shut out the A-final in 9th with a morning mark of 22.88.

Grousset’s season-best in the 50m free rests at the 21.81 he registered in Amiens last December to rank 16th in the world at the moment.

As reigning Olympic champion Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia has stated he’s most likely out of this year’s Paris Games, teammate Ahmed Jaouadi is left to carry the torch in the men’s 400m free.

Jaouadi has been as rapid as 3:45.95 this season, a time he scored in March at the Giant Series to rank 15th in the world.

This morning he produced 3:52.88 as the top seed to set himself up for a possible gold for this evening.

Additional Top Seeds

  • Kylie Masse of Canada led a 1-2 punch with teammate Ingrid Wilm in the women’s 50m back. The former put up 27.88 to the latter’s 28.03 to stake their claims on the gold.
  • Melanie Henique of the host nation was the top women’s 50m freestyler, hitting 25.05 ahead of countrywoman Beryl Gastaldello who notched 25.22.
  • Spain’s Africa Zamorano produced a time of 2:12.19 in the women’s 200m back, landing lane 4 ahead of France’s Emma Terebo (2:12.73) and Hungary’s Dora Molnar (2:12.77). Molnar is the reigning European Junior Championships gold medalist. She’s been as quick as 2:09.82 this season at the Hungarian Championships.
  • Sweden’s Louise Hansson posted 58.51 to take the lead in the women’s 100m fly, with teammate Sara Junevik not terribly far behind in 59.09. Marie Wattel rounded out the top 3 in 59.09. Of note, Swedish teammate Sarah Sjostrom was entered in Canet but wound up not swimming on day one.
  • Srihari Nataraj, India’s national record holder in the men’s 50m back, claimed the top seed this morning in 25.53. His PB rests at the 25.18 he logged at the 2021 Belgrade Trophy.
  • Japan’s 2019 World Championships medalist Katsuhiro Matsumoto clocked 1:49.05 to earn the top seed in the men’s 200m free.
  • The men’s 100m breast was void of any sub-minute performances, with Lithuanian Andrius Sidlauskas holding steady at 1:00.54 for the top seed. A trio of Japanese athletes comprises the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds, marked by Yu Hanaguruma (1:00.72), Ippei Watanabe (1:01.00) and Taku Taniguchi (1:01.75).

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About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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