At the National Fall Meeting in Compiegne, France this weekend, there were quite a few stars out for a final short course meters tuneup before the French National Championships in two weeks.
Among them was defending Olympic Champion over 50 meters Florent Manaudou, though at this meet he didn’t race that 50. With a much-stated goal of becoming a factor in the 100 meters as well, that was his focus at this meet, as he swam a 46.62 – his lifetime best by six-tenths of a second. That time is still far from where he needs to be to be considered competitive for individual medals on a global level, it does bump him up to 7th in the world in 2013.
In his absence, it was France’s new star Jeremy Stravius who took that 50 meter race. The meet was separated into four rounds in the 50 meter races, with the top 8 advancing out of an open preliminary, then whittled to two, then a one-on-one final. Stravius topped Great Britain’s Grant Turner in that final. Turner’s swim was only 23.54, as he did not handle the multi-round format very well – his last swim was his slowest, though he was as quick as 22.71 in round 2.
Stravius also picked up wins in the 50 back (23.76), 100 back (51.33), and the 100 IM (54.01). Interestingly enough, his other win came in the 1500 free, where he swam 14:55.81. That’s about 28 seconds behind Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri as the fastest in the world this year, so don’t expect any shift in focus for the Frenchman, but it was still a fun watch for him to try a different event.
The women’s side had an even bigger presence from internationals than did the men’s. The 50 free, for example, came down to a final between two Brits: Amy Smith and Emma Wilkins. Smith took the final in 25.16, with Wilkins’ best through the rounds being a 25.48 in the first quarter.
Smith also won the 100 free (55.05), and came 2nd in the 50 fly to country mate Rachael Kelly (27.79-27.25).
The most interesting battle of the night came in the women’s 200 free. There, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte, fresh off of a boat-load of winnings at the World Cup series, won in 1:56.09, with Britain’s Fran Halsall taking 2nd in 1:56.78. While the last four years have primarily seen Halsall focus on her sprint freestyles and butterflier, as a teenager she was actually extremely talented in the 200 free. This is her first swim of the event in short course meters since 2009, and there’s a chance she’ll gun for a spot on the British relay at the European Short Course Championships.
Halsall’s other event in a brief appearance at this meet was the 50 back, where she qualified all the way through to the final before falling to fellow Brit Georgia Davies 27.01-27.79.
Belmonte meanwhile had a typically loaded schedule. In addition to the 200 free, she also swam the 50 and 100 frees, the 100 back, the 100 breast, and the 100 fly. None of those races wound up as wins, though her 800 swim of 8:18.10 did, as did her swims in the three IM races, which she swept quite handily.