2014 French Long Course National Championships
- Dates: Tuesday, April 8 – Sunday, April 13, 2014
- Times: prelims 9:00 am, semis/ finals 5:00 pm
- Location: Chartres, France (GMT +1, or 6 hours ahead of N.Y., 9 ahead of L.A.)
- Results: Available
- Championship Central
In Part One of this meet preview we gave you a little background as to who is assembled in Chartres for this meet (nearly 1100 “élite” and age-group swimmers from all over France) and what is at stake for them (the chance to represent France on one of four national teams in international competition this summer). Here we will give you a few names to look out for.
The French championship crowns individual and club winners. Last year Olympic Nice Natation took top honors; in 2012 Toulouse stood atop the podium. Marseille has a very strong men’s squad but scores far fewer points on the women’s side. Once again this year, Nice will pick up points from Yannick Agnel who, although training with Bob Bowman at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, is still officially on the books of his old club.
|2013 Club Champion||2012 Club Champion|
|1 Olympic Nice Natation 1668 pts||1 Dauphins Toulouse OEC 1827 pts|
|2 CN Antibes 1634 pts||2 CN Marseille 1437 pts|
|3 Dauphins Toulouse OEC 1583 pts||3 CN Antibes 1240 pts|
|4 CN Marseille 1434 pts||4 Olympic Nice Natation 981 pts|
|5 Mulhouse ON 941 pts||5 Stade Français Olympique Courbevoie 813 pts|
France’s strength tends to be in the long axis strokes, and on the women’s side it’s fairly lopsided toward freestyle. The dominant talent in the 100, 200 and 400 frees is Camille Muffat, who swims for Olympic Nice Natation and holds the French national records in the latter two distances. Muffat won all three at this meet last year, although she went on to a somewhat lackluster World Championships in Barcelona (seventh in the 400, third in the 200). She had done much better the previous year at the London Olympics where she won the 400 and finished second in the 200. Muffat sports the top seed times in the 100/200/400 (53.51/ 1:54.66/ 4:01.13), and is third seed in the 50 -a new event for her.
Coralie Balmy (Mulhouse) is a strong middle-distance freestyler who is top seed (by 13 seconds, with 8:27.15) in the 800, second in the 400 and third in the 200. Last year she took third in the 200 and second in the 400. Anna Santamans (Nice) is by far and away the sprints queen, although her teammate Muffat will be challenging her for the 50 title this year. Santamans comes in seeded first in the 50 free with 24.81, a half-second faster than her winning time from 2013. She is also seeded third in the 100. Another name to keep an eye on in the freestyle is Muffat’s and Santamans’s Nice teammate Charlotte Bonnet, seeded second in both the 100 and the 200. You can imagine how strong those Nice relays are.
Morgane Rothon (Dijon) and Aurélie Muller (Sarreguemines) lead the field in the 1500 with seed times of 16:34.03 and 16:35.89. They finished third and second, respectively, to Lotte Friis in last year’s contest.
Cloé Credeville (Marseille) is head-and-shoulders above the field in the 100 and 200 back events, seeded with 1:00.65 (first by 2.5 seconds) and 2:09.73 (first by 4 seconds). Last year she won the 100 but finished second in the 200. This year she comes in four seconds faster in the latter, two seconds ahead of last year’s winning time. Although she won the 50 in 2013, Credeville is seeded third this year behind Mathilde Cini (Valence Triathlon) and Béryl Gastaldello (Marseille). The top four backstroke sprinters, rounded out by Camille Gheorghiu (Antibes), all come in with faster seed times than Credeville’s winning 29.15 from 2013.
The breast will be contested by Coralie Dobral (Montauban), seeded first in the 50 and 200 races with 32.03 and 2:28.63, respectively, and third in the 100. Dobral won both the 100 and the 200 last year and comes in faster than her winning times in both events. The French national record-holder in all three distances is Sophie De Ronchi (Massy), although neither she nor anyone else is all that close to her records, achieved in 2009 and 2011’s national meets. Nice’s Bonnet is top seed (1:09.61) in the 100 breast.
All the sprinters from 2013 are back to get another shot at the 50 fly title this year. Defending champion and current record-holder Mélanie Henique (Amiens) is top seed with 25.94, just .08 off her national record (set in Shanghai in 2011) and .53 ahead of last year’s winning time. Santamans, Marie Wattel (Nice), Gastadello, and Justine Bruno (Beauvaisis) are all entered with sub-27s, all faster than last year.
In the 100 fly, Muffat of Nice (58.37) has the top seed time, just ahead of Hungary’s Evelyn Verraszto. Lara Grangeon (CN Calédoniens) is seeded four seconds ahead of number two in the 200 fly. Her 2:09.41 is 3.5 seconds faster than last year’s winning time.
Verraszto of Hungary is the favorite in both the 200 and 400 IM, seeded with 2:11.78 and 4:38.50, respectively. Bonnet and Grangeon are seeded second and third in the 200, a couple of seconds behind Verraszto, and Grangeon is about 1.5 seconds off in the 400. Those should both be excellent races.
France’s men’s team is even more successful on the international stage than its women’s, and between the 50 and 100 free, you get pretty much all the big names: Yannick Agnel (Nice), Fabien Gilot (Marseille), Florent Manaudou (Marseille), Grégory Mallet (Marseille), and Mehdy Metella (Marseille).
Defending champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Manaudou is top seed in the 50 with 21.34. Gilot is about .6 behind him, but .5 ahead of third-seeded Oussama Sahnoune of Algeria. (Interestingly, Fred Bousquet still holds the French record, 20.94, from 2009.) In the 100 it’s Agnel (47.84) followed by the quartet from Marseille: Gilot, Manaudou, Mallet and Metella, with Sahnoune not far behind.
Agnel’s specialty is the 200. He comes in with his French-record-setting time from London 2012 (1:43.14); there are a lot of people looking forward to seeing him swim, to get a sense of what he’s been up to in Baltimore. Seeded 2.5 seconds back is Mallet, with Toulouse teammates Simon Guerin and Lorys Bourelly another 2.5 behind Mallet. In last year’s contest, Agnel won in 1:45.48, only .13 ahead of Jérémy Stravius of Amiens; this year Stravius seems to be focusing on backstroke.
Agnel will swim the 400 in Chartres, having foregone the event last year. He is entered with 3:46.14, about 2.3 off the French record he set in 2011. Second seed is defending champion Ahmed Mathlouthi of Tunisia. Anthony Pannier (Sarcelles) and Damien Joly (Antibes) will also be hoping to finish in the top four.
A lot of the same names show up in the 800 and 1500 seedings: Mathlouthi (7:50.77) leads the way in the 800 while Pannier (15:01.43) and Joly (15:02.43) are at the top of the 1500 list. A year ago Joly won the 800 and was runner-up in the 1500; his entry times are 4 and 18 seconds, respectively, ahead of last year’s pace. Pannier is faster by 9 and 57 seconds, respectively. The French records in these two events were set by Sébastien Rouault in 2010: 7:48.28 and 14:55.17. It will be interesting to see how fast the distance events will be in Chartres.
The back is arguably the most exciting event in French swimming because it’s so loaded with talent. In the 50 any one of six or seven men could take the title. Camille Lacourt (Marseille), who has been training in Australia since the end of last summer, is top seed with 24.39, but Stravius is only .06 back. Benjamin Stasiulis (Marseille) is seeded third, about .25 ahead of Eric Ress, just back from representing Indiana at NCAAs but swimming unattached in this meet, and Joris Hustache (Courbevois).
Lacourt (52.75), Stravius and Stasiulis lead the way in the 100, while Stasiulis, Ress and Stravius are the ones to beat in the 200.
Giacomo Perez Dortona (Marseille), France’s defending champion and current record holder (27.36 from 2009) in the 50 is first seed with 27.77. Malik Fall (Senegal, swimming for Courbevoie), Eddie Moueddene (Amiens), Thomas Rabeisen (Antibes), Manaudou (Marseille), and a few others are all bunched up with 28-mids.
In the 100 Perez Dortona leads the way with 1:00.55, slightly ahead of his winning time from 2013. A couple seconds behind is a foursome from Antibes: Thomas Dahlia, Quentin Coton, William Debourges, and Rabeisen. Debourges was last year’s champion in the 200 breast. He returns as the favorite with a slightly faster seed time (2:13.28) than his winning time from last year. Antibes teammates Coton and Dahlia and a couple others are seeded right there with him; the 200 looks like it could be a tight race.
Manaudou (23.14), Gilot, Romain Sassot (Chalon-sur-Saône), and Metella are the ones to watch in the 50. The French national record belongs to Bousquet (22.84); it wouldn’t be a stretch to think it might fall here.
Stravius (52.04), Metella, and Sassot are all within reach of a victory in the 100 fly. A fast final could take down the French record of 51.42, set by USC All-American Clément Lefert (Nice) in 2009. Defending champion Jordan Coelho (Etampes) is the top seed with 1:56.71, two seconds faster than Stravius’s seed time. Third seed is Hungary’s David Verraszto.
Stravius set the French record in the 200 IM at this meet last year with 1:57.89. In his absence this year, the top seeds are all foreign athletes: Verraszto of Hungary (2:00.41), Raphaël Stacchiotti of Luxembourg (Marseille) with 2:00.88, and Mathlouthi of Tunisia, also 2:00.88.
Verraszto won the 400 by nearly 10 seconds last year in 4:13.40. This year he comes in with the top seed time of 4:12.32 and while he’s the heavy favorite, Mathlouthi and Stacchiotti could give him a better race than he had in 2013.