Szczecin (pps) France’s swimmers have made two important changes at the very top of the current season’s World best rankings last weekend when 2008 Olympic Champion Alain Bernard clocked 46.59sec in the 100m freestyle, and 2008 and 2009 400m free European Short Course Champion Coralie Balmy 8.14,66min in the 800m freestyle at the French national short course championships in Angers. However, they won’t compete in Szczecin.
Remember how we called last weekend the best weekend of December swimming ever? Well, on top of what we posted there, we actually missed a meet that was even better.
With a huge majority of the French National Team across the Atlantic racing at the US long course National Championship meet, there were a few who stayed behind to light up French Short Course Nationals in Angers.
The biggest name on the schedule was Alain Bernard of CN Antibes. He swept the 50 and 100 freestyles in 21.32 and 46.59, respectively, in huge performances. That 100 free time ranks him well ahead of what anyone else in the world has gone this year, though with out a European Short Course appearance in mind, this was likely his winter taper.
The other swimmer to zoom to the top of the World Rankings was Coralie Balmy in the women’s 800 free in 8:14.22.
With an eye towards what American-trained French National Eric Ress was doing in Atlanta, Benjamin Stasiulis had a solid swim in the men’s 200 back of 1:51.31 to take that event by 4 seconds. Not a great time for him, though Ress wasn’t at his best in Atlanta either.
Stasiulis was 2nd in the 100, by a hair, to co-World Champion Jeremy Stravius, who won in 51.05.
Other big names included Hugues Duboscq, who is training under a new coach, winning the 100 breast in 59.45 (he’s a key to not having another medley meltdown in London), and a 17-year old French Age Record from Charlotte Bonnet in the women’s 200 free in 1:55.44. Combined with Camille Muffat, the event winner Coralie Balmy (1:54.99), Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne, and Margaux Farrell (training at Indiana), and maybe even Laure Manaudou, there’s a solid 6 swimmers to go into this relay for London. Giving the coaches flexibility to pick from 6 strong legs is a huge advantage at major meets.
Alexianne Castel swept the backstroke events, with her best performance being a 2:03.66 in the 200. That ranks her in the top 10 in the world this year.
A mighty interesting race on the men’s side was the 100 fly. The winner was a lesser-known swimmer Romain Sassot in 51.05, which places him 8th in the world.
Who I thought was really an intriguing possibility, though was Stravius taking 2nd in 51.41. Though long course and short course aren’t perfectly analagous, if one was comparing Stravius’ 100 back and his 100 fly, one might infer that he’s capable of at least a 53.0 in the 100 fly based on this swim. The French men are really pretty dreadful in this race, but Stravius feels like one of those guys who could have a pretty comfortable cross-over swim into this race for a relay appearance. Clement Lefert is also a strong possibility.