French swimmer Florent Manaudou, perhaps eyeballing a season-ending shootout matchup against the likes of Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers, swam a 200 freestyle on a relay leg last weekend.
Racing on Saturday in Istres, France at an Interclubs meet representing his club team CN Marseille, the French sprinter had 3 swims on the day: the 100 IM, which he swam in 53.33, a 50 free on a 10×50 relay, where he split 20.71, and a 200 free on a 4×200 free relay, where he split 1:46.07.
Manaudou, who turned 29 on Tuesday, is known primarily for his sprinting abilities. He’s the current World Record holder in the 50 free and 50 back in short course meters, and also holds French Records in the 50 fly, 50 breast, and 100 IM. In short: if it’s in water and requires a lot of fast-twitch muscles, Manaudou is very good at it.
Where he doesn’t have the same strong history, however, is in races longer than 50 meters. He has been 47.98 in the 100 free, but also has some infamous collapses on his resume from early in his career: including at the 2011 World Championships where a 54.02 in the 100 fly on the medley relay, that he split 23.68/30.34, left a French team with a shot at gold out of the final altogether.
Manaudou has built an impressive career out of sprinting, and now, after his return to full-time swimming after a foray into professional handball (which he credits the ISL for motivating), endurance becomes even more important. Showing up at the Olympics and racing just the 50 free and 400 free relay across 8 days is less of a viable option in the ISL’s compact and high-intensity team-based format.
And Manaudou has shown that the Manaudou of old might have turned a new leaf in terms of finishing races. He split 1:46.07 on a relay, which was the fastest split of the field by more than a second – and that’s a field that included swimmers like Jeremy Stravius and Jeremy Desplanches.
- Splits: 24.05 – 26.61 – 27.14 – 28.27 = 1:46.07
While he still was fading at the end (Stravius, for example, was 27.5 on his last 50), by Manaudou’s standards that’s an impressive result. His best time in a flat-start swim is long course is 1:51.34 from 2013 and in short course is a 1:54.85 from 2009.
This becomes even more crucial with the level of emphasis that the ISL places upon the ‘skins’ events at the end of the meet. This race, which features 3 rounds of 50 freestyles separated by only 3 minutes, ends every meet, and is worth significantly more than any of the meet’s other races. That includes in both dollars (triple a normal event), team points (27 points for the winner, versus 9 for a normal event), and MVP scoring (worth 50% more than a normal event).
In his first ISL meet in Indianapolis, Manaudou beat his teammate Ben Proud in the final 50, but swam only 22.97 in that final round (albeit without much pressure from a team perspective).
A week later in Naples, he made the final and raced against American Caeleb Dressel, and this time finished in 2nd place. Dressel swam 21.33 in the final, and Manaudou was only 23.13.
While his Energy Standard Club is essentially locked-in to a place in the final in December in Las Vegas, their win their is not guaranteed – especially after a very good performance by London Roar in Group B. Energy Standard probably need to find a way to get at least 1 swimmer into the men’s final of the Skin event and lock out the Roar (it’s hard to see Dressel not making the final). With such a short turnaround between 50s, if Manaudou is adapting his training for that dense race lineup, this 200 free could be some sign that it’s taking hold.
Manaudou and the Energy Standard Club are scheduled to race again on November 23rd and 24th in London at the European Derby meet.