Explanation of French Olympic Qualifying: Swimmers must ultimately pass under the FINA A-time in finals to earn an individual swim for the 2012 Olympics, but in many events there are certain standards that need to be met in each of the earlier rounds as well, so no loafing through prelims is allowed. Swimmers, even if they don’t hit those intermediary times, can still earn relay swims by winning in finals, where applicable. The French Federation does have the ability to make exceptions, but is generally very strict.
For a full list of French Olympic Qualifying Standards, go to this handbook and scroll to page 3. NL = Freestyle, Dos = Backstroke, Brasse = Breaststroke, Papillon = Butterfly, 4N = IM.
Women’s 200 Free – Final
Olympic Qualification: final-1:58.33
One wasn’t enough. France’s Camille Muffat swam her second Textile-Best time of the meet when she swam a 1:54.87 in the 200 free to win the French Title at the Olympic Trials on Wednesday. Besides the fastest time ever swum in textile, it also cleared her French Record of 1:55.40 that she set in the semi-finals.
This swim broke records, but it also cleared up a big controversy of the “textile bests.” The previous textile best time was often debated, as it technically belonged to Sara Isakovic. She swam a 1:54.97 in an Arena R-evolution suit at the 2008 Olympics. It had no polyurethane in it, though, so even though it was during the polyurethane era, it was still a textile best.
At any rate, this was the 5th-fastest 200 free in history, behind only four swims from defending World Champion Federica Pellegrini in 2008 and 2009.
With the excitement of her race, it was a bit disappointing that we didn’t see her drag her teammates to new heights ala James Magnusen (and James Roberts) in Australia. Coralie Balmy came excrutiatingly close with a 1:58.42, and though she dropped time from the semi’s, she ultimately missed the mark by .09 (she’s been faster than the qualifying time on multiple instances in her career, including earlier in 2012).
The middle-distance groups of the French (men and women) have really struggled in this meet, aside from Muffat’s fireworks. Coupled with the women’s 400 and the men’s 400, there have been at least three other sure-fire individual swims from this meet that should have gone to the Olympics, but didn’t.
Balmy and Muffat will be joined on the relay by Charlotte Bonnet (1:58.55) and Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne (1:59.15). Indiana senior Margaux Farrell had the best swim we’ve seen from her this championship season to clock a 1:59.31 for 5th overall. That won’t earn an automatic invite to the Olympics, but there’s certainly a scenario where the French, wanting to save Muffat for her individual races, would use Farrell in the prelims of the 800 free relay. Four swimmers under the two-minute barrier is usually good enough to safely navigate to the finals, where they would presumably swap in Muffat as their anchor.
This 200 free was easily the most significant final of the night, as it featured the only Olympic bids.
Men’s 100 Free – Semifinal
Olympic Qualification: Finals-48.82
The French men are going to have no problem getting under this Olympic qualification mark. The top four are already there after the semi-finals.
Amaury Leveaux, with a 50 fly title and a 200 free runner-up already under his belt, took the 100 free top seed in 48.48, followed by Yannick Agnel in 48.58. If we learned anything from Agnel’s 200, he’s going to be very fast in this final.
Alain Bernard took 3rd in 48.61, with Fabien Gilot 4th in 48.74. Gregory Mallet, Clement Lefert, and Fred Bousquet were all into the final, though it was far from comfortable. Playing the big spoiler in this very-deep race was 19-year old Mehdy Metella out of Toulosuse, who snuck in with the 8th seed in 49.17.
That means that last year’s bronze medalist in the 100 free at the World Championships, William Meynard, won’t even get a chance at the final, with a 49.19 swim for 9th. Also out are Florent Manaudou (49.24) and Jeremy Stravius (49.82).
Women’s 200 IM – Final
Olympic Qualifications: Semis – 2:15.03|Finals – 2:13.36
After a subpar semifinals swim that left her out of the running for the Olympics, Sophie de Ronchi still put a big exclamation mark on the 200 IM final with a win in 2:14.88 (which would have missed the qualifying time regardless).
She was followed by Lara Grangeon, the only swimmer who was still in the running for an Olympic spot, in 2:15.54. That was much slower than she was in the earlier round after she ran out of gas on the back-half of the race.
Men’s 50 Back – Final (Non-Olympic)
No spots to London were earned in this race, but a number-one World Ranking did go to Camille Lacourt by way of his 24.81 win in this race. He was the only big-name swimmer in this race, with his Marseille teammate Dorian Gandin taking 2nd in 25.48.