Camille Muffat Continues Craziness at Paris Open Day 1

Nico Messer was born and raised in Switzerland, and is currently the head coach for Vevey Natation. He has spent time working as an assistant with the famed Race Club program in the Florida Keys, and is a former elite-level swimmer himself. He is on deck this week at the Paris Open giving us first-hand accounts and feel from what he sees with his own eyes. His website can be found here. You can also follow him on Twitter @aquadonis.

Looking at my own Twitter feed the word is already out on what happened during the finals in Paris. Obviously, there are plenty of ways you can get results faster than waiting for me to type up the post for SwimSwam on my phone in Paris. But what you can get only by visiting SwimSwam is the opinion of swim coach that many people think is too young and crazy. So I really hope you enjoy these reports, even though I might let you find some of the results on your own.

The afternoon in Paris started with the B-Finals of all events. Wasn’t exactly the most exciting way to start the meet, although the B-Final of the men’s 100 free had the most “foreign” athletes swimming. But at the end the French ended up on “top” with Amaury Leveaux taking the 9th-place “win” in 49.80 ahead of the two Russian sprinters.

Just as the distance ladies were about to walk out of the calling room for their 800 free a dark cloud over the pool brought about 10 minutes of heaving rain and some thunders. They had the people exit the stands all while the athletes continued their final preparations in the warm-up pool. There were short moment of doubt whether the organizers would be able to run the A-Finals or if they had to cancel the “real” final sessions.

Eventually, the competitors walked out for their 800 freestyle but with the short showers most people didn’t even realize that Camille Muffat was lined up for this final. Looking at her first 400 meters I wasn’t sure if maybe she was the sole swimmer to stop the warm-up during the showers just before. But it was probably her race plan to do what she recently did at the Mare Nostrum meets in her 400 freestyles – take it out real smooth and bring it home in a time that could win individual races elsewhere. Camille split an amazing 4:04 on her 2nd 400! Her final time of 8:23.60 is a personal best and ranks her 6th in the world this year and 23rd-best of all time!

But Camille didn’t have enough for today. Switching through the gears in the 800 was impressive but what she delivered in the 200 free only about 10 minutes later deserves the labeled “scary”. Some might think that after an 800 free this wouldn’t be an easy task, especially if you swam a 4:04 on your 2nd 400 meters. But she started her next race right where she left off the previous, at full speed, winning in a dominate 1:56.21 (splitting 28 on her last 50). And still, although I do think she worked a lot harder this evening and pushed it more, I don’t think she showed us what she’s capable of doing just yet. I heard a few people in the stands say that if she doesn’t win the 400 free in London, she probably decided not to swim it.

Just as this morning, Yannick Agnel took it out fast in the final of the 400 free in an opposite tact of Muffat. Going out just a little slower in 1:48 he did hold on for the win this time finishing in 3:51.97 and then came back at the very end of the meet to pull of the upset winning the 100 freestyle ahead of Jeremy Stravius and Aussie Matt Target.

Earlier in the session Target barely out-touched local sprint star Fred Bousquet by 0.1 of a second in the men’s 50 fly. Fabio Scozzoli won the men’s 50 breast ahead of French Olympian Giacomo Perez Dortona, by times of 27.73 – 27.77; Dortona continues to look better as the French’s new number-one breaststroker. But Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa finishing 3rd looked the “strongest” of the sprinters in that final in 27.86. This comes probably without a big surprise as he has explained the shift of his focus from the 50 breaststroke to the 100 leading up to the Olympics several times of the past year.

Laszlo Cseh also had his appearance in the 400 IM. His winning result of 4:13 is a great time, but he wasn’t pushed at any point during this 400 and it was very obvious that he just took this race as another stop on the road to London.

Michael Jamieson of Great Britain had a great 200 breaststroke out of lane 6, touching in 2:11.24 for the win.

Now don’t get me wrong and misinterprate my focus on the men’s side. There were other races on the women’s side…there just wasn’t quite anything left that could be more exciting than those first 20 minutes of the meet with Camille Muffat and her two races. But here’s a quick run down of what else happened today.

The women’s 50 free saw Dutch sprint Queen Marleen Veldhuis getting the better of Swedish sprint diva Therese Alshammar, both with sub 25″ efforts. It wasn’t a good looking swim by Marleen but sure got the job done. Many swim fans have Therese on their medal list for the 50 free at the Olympics, and although the outcome of the past Olympic Games aren’t in her favor, it’s probably about time she climbs the throne that she’s occupied for so many years now. Her stroke looked really good and with so many different countries participating it’s hard to know where exactly everyone is in their preparation/taper right now.

Marseille based Dutch sprinter Inge Dekker showed some speed taking out the 100 fly under World Record pace and eventually taking the win in 58.37, with Germany’s Alexandra Wenk being the only other sub 60″ effort.

Kirsty Coventry pulled off the double in the 200 IM (2:13.60) and 200 back (2:10.10) all within about 20 minutes. Her backstroke doesn’t look quite right yet as she seems to lack some of the front-end speed that used to get her ahead of the pack in the past. But her back half looks as strong if not stronger (splitting 31 on her last 50) as before. That 200 time is her best of the year, and though she was a bit faster in the IM in January, it doesn’t look as though she’s been held-back too badly by her knee injury.

I noticed that the SwimSwam readers are really active in participating in the discussions through the comments. So I thought, I end today’s report with some “bold” statements that hopefully get some discussion going.

1. Aussie Eamon Sullivan’s start doesn’t look as great in person as it does on TV.
2. Too many international female swimmers seem to have really weak starts.
3. Fred Busquet is just a class act! Patiently waited 40 minutes for a bus taking him back to the hotel and even had time to joke around with the volunteer officials of the meet – great athlete in and out of the pool!

Tomorrow should be another exciting day in Paris as a few other top athletes should join in on the fun.

Full Meet Results are available here.

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Looks like Stravius is back on his game in the 100 free. This gives the French a better option and it is not looking great for the US.

The French seem to look like they have too many options for the 400 FR. The Aussie haven’t really shown anything since their Olympic Trials meet. I wouldn’t count out the Russians and Brazilians for at least having an outside chance. Then again, if the US team steps up similar to Cullen Jones in his individual 100 free at US Trials, anything seems possible. Sure going to be a great race at the Olympics.


Stravius swimming well is good for France. While they have many options, Bernard is their #4 and has not proven to be a good relay swimmer, Lefert (#5 out of trials) is completely unproven in the 100 (also, 48.6 isn’t fast enough), and Meynard was waaay off his 48.00 from last year, and despite being put on the team appears unlikely to make the finals relay. If Stravius is on their likely finals lineup is Agnel, Leveaux, Stravius, Gilot.


Just a comment about Bernard not being a good relay swimmer – I assume you are referring to 2008, when he “lost it” to Lezak in that incredible final. In fact Bernard split 46.73 on that leg, which I am pretty sure makes him the third fastest on a relay split ever, after his team-mate Bousquet (46.63 (in both heats and final)), and Lezak’s insane 46.06. So I’m not sure you can quite call that “not good”!!!


On Bernard, I’m referring more to the past two years. I agree he gets a bad rap; people still consider him to have “come out of nowhere” in 2008 when he was a 48.1 in 2007. But his leadoff last year was pretty bad in finals and his anchor in 2010 was 48.7. He appears to be heading in the wrong direction, at least enough that if Stravius looks on a similar level to the past two years I would go with him. @John26 not sure I understand what you’re saying. If you’re referring to the French, then yes, Leveaux is not definite since he’s sort of on a comeback himself, and the 4th spot is uncertain, but Agnel and… Read more »


this is not a fairassessment as half the finals relay (the younger half) havent even swam since trials. Of the half that have swum, none of the 3 havebroken 49, bu all three are swimmers who’veonly done so under taper. Nonetheless the frenchman havent eiher so there is no reason for worry.


Bousquet is a true champion: too bad he isn’t going to London!


Fred’s been a favorite of mine for a while now, but for all that he was utterly brilliant during his NCAA run, he’s tended to be maddeningly inconsistent elsewhere outside of the suit years. Go all the way back to 2003, when he had an awesome 47.03 4×100 FR split at World Championships, way faster than Popov or Thorpe, and then went a relatively pedestrian 49.3 in the 100 free finals a few days later.

I wasn’t surprised to see him air ball it at the French Trials; I would have been equally unsurprised to see him throw down a time to make Magnusson nervous.


He had a much better Lenk meet in Brazil. He did go 21.7 (which would have made the French team). I agree though, he has been inconsistent. I think he will post some impressive times here though, he’ll want to put on a show for his French fans.


Nico Messer,
Agnel winning the 100 free is definitely NOT “pull off the upset”.
In fact, Agnel was a strong favorite to win 100 free in Paris Open. Remember that he is currently the world’s third fastest 100 sprinter.
Sullivan not finaling is not surprising, he (and Targett) has just spent 3 days to reach Paris.

And I am quite shocked at Muffat’s 800 (or rather second 400). Barring disaster, she is quite unbeatable in 400. And now it seems she has also some design on the 800 as well. That would make 800 free a very very exciting race.


Muffat is not swimming the 800m. I believe she didn’t swim it at trials and her name isn’t on this list for the 800.

This list was posted on this site a few weeks ago, to tell the truth I have no idea what to make of it since it has the Italian men in the 100free final, and Park Taehwan in the 1500m free, events where we’ve heard the individuals claim are not swimming. On the other hand, the list is updated in that it doesn’t have Phelps in the 200free (Berens instead).

I put this down as an upset since the 100 free final could as well have been a final at a big meet looking at the sprint power in it. Also I don’t think Agnel has a stroke that fits the 100 free (yet). In my opinion he’s just too tall with too long arms and can’t control his technique the same way he does swimming the middle distance races.



Whether Agnel is too tall, has too long arms etc, it is inconsequential. The fact is, Agnel is FASTER (in textile) than ANYONE in the final.

In no way I wanted to deny or make it sound that he’s not fast (one of the fastest in textile). It just seems he won’t be able to improve a lot on his time in the coming three weeks. Whereas those heavy sprinter guys probably just gonna get faster and more explosive with more rest. If he proves me wrong come London, I’ll have no problem to give him the sprinter credits he deserves.


Nico, I understand what you are saying about Agnel having a middle distance stroke, which doesn’t necessarily fit the 100. However, I argue that it is possible that he could do major damage with the middle distance stroke. What we’ve seen in several dominant 100distance swimmers ie. Rebecca Soni, Michael Phelps is that their 100 distance stroke is almost identical to their 200 stroke, just at a slower tempo. Even Magnussen and Hoogenband’s successes have been credited to his 200 styled stroke. In all these swimmers, the key is that their 200 stroke allows them to come back half a second faster than rivals who have a more specialized sprint stroke (ie Cavic, Hardy, Cielo) Now, as we’ve seen in… Read more »

John26 – as you stated there are enough counter examples that run in Agnel’s favor…I would even go as far and say that I agree. However I’m “opinionated” as what I’m looking for in a 100 freestyle swimmer as a coach and I’m not seeing Angel fit in that pattern right now. He most certainly proved all those wrong that thought his shift away from the 400 was a mistake. Anyone who keeps a list should have him on there at least for the 200 free in London. However I think there’s a reason why Phelps eventually decided not to swim the 100 free individually that wasn’t all depending on his Olympoc program. Or why Magnussen isn’t going for the… Read more »


It’s a very interesting point you bring up about specialization. I haven’t thought about how far swimming as come in terms of specialization. However, I disagree that it has been to the extent where it is to a specific event. Track and Field is a sport where specialization is far more apparent– so much so that athletes who can win more than one race at the highest level comes along roughly once every 10 years (Bolt, Johnson, Lewis…etc). Swimming hasn’t gotten to that level of specialization. You really have to go back far to Rowdy Gaines, Mark Spitz era to find swimmers that were able to dominate the 50 through 200m (3 distances), and even with the talent that is… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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