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.
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.
After 1 day into the 2012 French Olympic Swimming Trials in Dunkerke, France, we haven’t seen any of the big finals that we’re waiting for in this meet (and really, it was a dreadfully slow session overall), but we did get a surprise appearance from Brett Hawke’s post-grad group at Auburn. Tyler McGill and Mark Gangloff have traveled with their training partners Fred Bousquet and Laure Manaudou, for whom this meet is an official Olympic Trial. It’s a worthwhile trip for them, given that the Auburn coaching staff is otherwise occupied this weekend.
Sebastien Rouault was expected to get an Olympic bid in his first event of the meet. He won the 400 free in 3:49.15, however, that came up a few-tenths short of the mark needed to qualify. He was much faster at last year’s World Championships, and based on that time is eligible for the Olympics from FINA’s perspective, though because he didn’t hit the time at this meet he will be left home from London.
Hopefully this swim is not an indicator of how much of the French Team is approaching this meet, as some races are pretty thin. That could keep some of the fast times we’ve been hoping for from happening, though there will also be races where the competition is higher than this one.
Yannick Agnel did back up his claims that he would scratch the 400 free, as he was not in this race (despite being entered on the start lists).
The only Olympic spot handed out on this day was in the women’s 400 IM. There, Lara Grangeon won in 4:40.12, which is well under the A-standard and puts her on the Olympic team. Still, that time was more than a second slower than she was at this meet last year, so not a great swim, but good enough regradless.
The other men’s Olympic final on the day was actually won by Tunisia’s Taki M’Rabet in 4:20.84. Though not his best time, this is a good in-season swim for the French-trained swimmer who is likely to join his more famous teammate Ous Mellouli at the Olympics. The highest-placing French swimmer was runner-up Quentin Coton in 4:22.22.
The semi-finals were at least slightly more entertaining than the finals were. A strong finals race is set up in the 200 breaststroke with the top two French finishers Giacomo Perez (1:00.97) and defending Olympic bronze-medalist Hugues Duboscq (1:01.69). That means Duboscq won’t be eligible to swim the race individually in London, as he missed the mark that the French Federation had set for the semi’s (1:01.51). His only shot now is to win the final, which would earn him only a spot on the French medley relay.
This swim was a big test of Duboscq’s new training routine, as he’s now coached by a former teammate. They’ll also race with American Mark Gangloff, who split the difference in the semi-finals in 1:01.47. Dubo
I think that this is Perez’s year. At 22, he’s much younger than Duboscq, and while Duboscq has been in a rough decline (prompting the coaching change), Perez is swimming very well. He will have to drop a few tenths though and go a best time to earn his own individual swim, but a win would put him on the medley regardless.
In the 50 fly, Amery Leveaux took the title in 23.65. That’s easily the best time he’s gone in textile, and three-tenths faster than he was at World’s qualifying last year. That has to make him feel very confident headed into the 50 and the 100 freestyles later in the meet, where there will be huge competition. The runner-up there was Fred Bouquet in 23.70, followed by a tie between Florent Manaudou and Fabien Gilot in 23.72.
American Tyler McGill finished well back in 6th in 24.14.