Charlotte Bonnet Will be in Gwangju, But No French 800 Free Relay

2019 French Elite National Championships– 50M

Women’s 200 Freestyle

  • FINA “A” cut: 1:58.66
  • Time to achieve in prelims to qualify for Worlds: 1:58.03
  • French record: 1:54.66 – Camille Muffat (Olympic Nice Natation) – 06/06/2012 – Canet-en-Roussillon


  1. Charlotte Bonnet, Olympic Nice Natation – 1:56.57
  2. Margaux Fabre, Canet 66 Natation – 1:58.86
  3. Joana Desbordes, SFO Courbevoie – 1:59.43

Nice’s Charlotte Bonnet, who had already qualified to represent France in this event at World Championships by virtue of having medaled in the 200 free at 2018 European Championships, defended her national title in her signature event with 1:56.57. That ranks her 6th in the world for the season underway. Last year she won in 1:55.53.

Pellegrini Federica Italy

2018-2019 LCM WOMEN 200 FREE

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Margaux Fabre, who missed the individual cut-off by half a second in prelims with 1:58.54, was runner-up in 1:58.86. Third place went to Joana Desbordes of Courbevoie in 1:59.43, a huge improvement for the 18-year-old whose best time coming into the meet was 2:01.72. Desbordes went 1:59.99 in heats to break the 2:00 barrier for the first time. Assia Touati placed fourth in 1:59.97.

With the top four finishers coming to the wall in sub-2:00 times, people will undoubtedly grouse about the fact that France didn’t qualify a 4×200 free relay for 2019 World Championships.  So let’s review the Fédération Française de Natation (FFN)’s qualification rules for the women’s 800 free relay.

As stated in the FFN’s own documentation* and explained here, the women needed add-up times of 7:56.24 in prelims, using the results of the 2nd through 5th finishers out of morning heats. In the table below, using the top 5 times out of the morning (ascribed to -in order- Bonnet, Fabre, Desbordes, Assia Touati, and Alizée Morel), the French did not make the cut. Swimmers #2-#5 (as specifically stated in the rules) added up to 8:00.38. But even if you take the top 4 times from heats, throwing Bonnet in the mix, you only get 7:56.97. Technically, the fact that the top four times in finals added up to 7:54.83 should be irrelevant. But the final decision rests with the National Technical Director (“DTN”), and it wouldn’t be the first time that France threw out the rules to accommodate more swimmers. At the 2016 French Elite Championships, the qualifying meet for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the DTN added a large number of swimmers to the roster, especially on the women’s side, after having only a handful of outright qualifiers at the meet’s end.

Prelims   Prelims   Finals  
2nd 1:58.54 1st 1:57.54 1st 1:56.57
3rd 1:59.99 2nd 1:58.54 2nd 1:58.86
4th 2:00.90 3rd 1:59.99 3rd 1:59.43
5th 2:00.95 4th 2:00.90 4th 1:59.97
Add-up 8:00.38 Add-up 7:56.97 Add-up 7:54.83

*The original text reads as follows. 2.2 Relais 4 x 100 & 4 x 200 nage libre dames , 4 x 100 nage libre messieurs : seront proposés à la sélection les cinq premiers nageurs à l’issue des séries lors des Championnats de France Elite, à condition que le temps de qualification (à l’addition des temps individuels) du tableau ci-dessous, soit réalisé par les nageurs classés de la seconde à la cinquième place.

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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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