The Montpellier Open in Montpellier, France was a fairly low-key, low-level meet. That is, except for the 200 freestyles, where the powerful teams from Nice and Marseilles broke out some impressive mid-season swims.
With the Olympic Trials coming up in March, most of these swimmers are likely putting in big workloads to finish off their work before they begin to taper, which puts these swims in a very positive perspective.
Yannick Agnel took top honors in the men’s race with a strong 1:46.94. That sits second in the world early this season just a tenth behind Sun Yang’s swim in Australia last weekend. Though that seems to be a blazing-fast time (and really, it is a good swim) it’s about four-tenths slower than he was at this same meet last year. Finally healthy for a full season, he’s going to be strong at Trials, and don’t be surprised if he grabs an individual spot in the 100 free to go with his 200/400 freestyles as well.
The runner-up in the race was Clement Lefert, who gave up a potential final season of eligibility at USC to train for and compete-at the French Olympic Trials. Thus far the decision is paying off for him big-time: his 1:47.84 here sits a tenth-of-a-second behind a pair of swims from the World University Games as the 3rd-best time of his career. He hasn’t historically had a huge taper, but should be lined up to break into a 1:46 at French Trials.
Gregory Mallet was 3rd in 1:48.76.
On the women’s side, Camille Muffat put up a huge 1:56.57 for a dominant, four-second win. Like her teammate Agnel, that swim ranks her 2nd in the world this season. Her challenge is that she’s always very fast in-season. The runner-up was up-and-coming 16-year old Charlotte Bonnet in 2:00.26. That’s within a second of her best flat-start time, but she was a relay-only swimmer in Shanghai last summer where she split a 1:58-flat in finals for France’s 800 free relay.
In the men’s 50 fly, Agnel and Lefert again squared-off, but this time it was the elder Lefert who took the title in 24.35. He’s been a very good butterflier in short course, but he has largely avoided the events in long course. With the French looking for an medley-relay 100 butterflier, however, take this 50 as a sign that he might be gunning for that spot at Trials.
In the 50 fly, Dutch swimmer Inge Dekker (who trains in France with Marseilles) won in 26.39. That’s the 5th-best swim in the world this year, though only the 2nd-best by Dekker. Camille Muffat showed nice versatility to take 2nd in 26.72.