The first day of the tightly-packed French Open in Vichy wasn’t without its share of excitement. First the Federation moved Friday’s final session up by two hours so as not to conflict with France’s World Cup match in Brazil, then thunderstorms delayed the start. Once action got underway, though, it was smooth sailing in the beautiful Stade Aquatique Vichy Val d’Allier.
Women’s 800m free
Under a cloudy sky the “A” final session began with the fastest qualifying heat of the women’s 800 free. Lauren Boyle of New Zealand dominated from start to finish, leading by 5 at the 400 and eventually winning with a new Open record of 8:22.93. That’s the fourth-fastest time in the world so far this year, behind Katie Ledecky, Great Britain’s Jazmin Carlin, and Jessica Ashwood of Australia. Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands touched second in 8:29.69; Australia’s Ashwood was third (8:33.36).
Men’s 50m fly
Although not his fastest sprint fly of the year, Brazil’s Cesar Cielo was still fast enough to get the job done; he won the 50 in 23.52. Cielo went 23.01 in April to post the world’s fastest time for 2014. Second place went to his Brazilian teammate Nicholas Santos with 23.74, and third was shared between Venezuela’s Albert Subirats and Ukraine’s Andrey Govorov, both 23.84.
Women’s 200m free
The women’s 200 free was an exciting race between Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and Emma McKeon of Australia. They were out together at the 50, but Hosszu had pulled ahead by about .3 by the 100. McKeon was able to outsplit her on the next two 50s and the two touched the wall at exactly the same time: 1:56.40. France’s Charlotte Bonnet took third in 1:58.77.
Men’s 50m breast
Joao Luiz Gomes Junior of Brazil broke the French Open record in the 50 breast in prelims with 27.06. While he didn’t improve on his morning time in finals he nonetheless clocked the fastest performance of the meet so far (based on FINA points) and bumped up to third in the world with a 27.10. Raphaël Rodrigues, also from Brazil, finished second in 27.79 just touching out France’s Giacomo Perez Dortona (27.82).
Women’s 100m breast
Italy’s Arianna Castiglioni won the gold in the women’s 100 breast with a very strong second half. Third at the 50, she outsplit her opponents by quite a margin to win in 1:08.83. Germany’s Vanessa Grimbert (1:09.14) and Caroline Ruhnau (1:10.35) took second and third, respectively.
Men’s 400m IM
David Verraszto (4:14.38) of and Laszlo Cseh(4:20.36) of Hungary, Brazil’s Thiago Pereira (4:19.44), and Yannick Lebherz (4:20.44) of Germany started out as a tight-knit group, making the fly-to-back turn almost together. Cseh had an outstanding backstroke leg and took over the lead at the 200. But Verraszto’s strong breast put him out front from the 250 and he never looked back. By the 300 he had a 2-3 second lead and then hammered it home with a 59.1 on his free. Pereira moved into second after the breast and was able to maintain his position into the wall. Cseh managed the bronze despite an unbelievable charge from Lebherz, who split a 58.8 on the end and missed the medal stand by only .08.
Women’s 100m fly
The Netherlands’ Inge Dekker was in control from the start of the women’s 100 fly, with a strong underwater that put her a half a body length in front of the field. She had increased her lead to a full body length at the 50 turn and maintained that lead to the end. Her 58.07 winning time was about 3/4 of a second off her best 2014 time. Australia’s McKeon took second in 59.22, just ahead of France’s Béryl Gastaldello (59.51).
Men’s 100m back
What is normally one of the more exciting races in French swimming was a little less so with the absence of Camille Lacourt. Arkady Vyatchanin, representing New York Athletic Club, won the 100 back without too much effort. He finished in 54.11 to Jérémy Stravius of France’s 54.96 and Jan Philip Glania of Germany’s 55.27.
Women’s 50m back
Italy’s Arianna Barbieri earned the gold medal in the women’s 50 back with a 28.58 finish in front of Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina (28.74) and Iceland’s Eyglo Osk Gustafsdottir (29.05).
Men’s 200m fly
About a half hour after contesting the 400 IM, Hungary’s Cseh was back to do battle with France’s Jordan Coelho in the 200 fly. The two men put on an exciting show. Coelho led by a half-second at the 50, by a second at the 100, and by 8/10 at the 150. Then Cseh found another gear and inched up on Coelho, eventually passing him and getting the win 1:59.39 to 1:59.67. Luiz Pereira of Brazil took third in 2:03.59.
Women’s 200m IM
After her earlier tie in the 200 free there was no question whether or not Hungary’s Hosszu was going to win the 200 IM; the only question was how fast she would be. While her 2:11.02 wasn’t her fastest for 2014 it broke the French Open record and put her in front by nearly four seconds. She led by wasn’t alone at the fly-to-back wall; fellow Hungarian Evelyn Verraszto was right behind her. Hosszu pulled way ahead with her backstroke, distanced herself further from the field in breast, and then finished up with a strong anchor free. Verraszto’s 2:14.98 was second. Fantine Lesaffre of France went 2:16.54 to claim bronze.
Men’s 400m free
The men’s 400 was an exciting race throughout. Australia’s David McKeon, who has the fastest time in the world this year, was first out of the chutes. He led at the 50 and at the 100. New Zealand’s Matthew Stanley had an incredible third leg and took over the lead at the 150. He couldn’t hang on to his pace, though. Meanwhile, Canada’s Ryan Cochrane kicked into gear and overtook both Stanley and McKeon, winning in 3:50.35. McKeon snuck by Stanley to finish second, 3:51.32 to 3:51.72.
Women’s 50m free
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands won the 50 free in 24.53. Germany’s Dorothea Brandt finished second in 24.84; France’s Anna Santamans was third in 25.02.
Men’s 200m breast
Hungary’s David Verraszto picked up his second gold medal with a 2:13.21 victory in the men’s 200 breast. It was an animated final, as two of France’s top breaststrokers, Quentin Coton and William Debourges, were going stroke for stroke with Verraszto. Carlos Claverie of Venezuela was in the mix, too. While it was clear no one would catch Verraszto it was anyone’s game for second place. In the end Coton took silver with 2:14.08, while his teammate Debourges nudged out Claverie for third, 2:15.47 to 2:15.50.
Women’s 200m back
Showing very little signs of fatigue, Hungary’s Hosszu put on her third gold-medal performance with a 2:10.65 victory in the women’s 200 back. She was never not in the lead and finished 1.5 seconds in front. Germany’s Lisa Graf and Ukraine’s Zevina both had very strong back-half races and touched nearly together at 2:12.18 and 2:12.31, respectively.
Men’s 100m free
Day One wrapped up with a star-laden heat of men’s 100 freestylers: Australia’s James Magnussen, Italy’s Luca Leonardi, and Fabien Gilot of France earned the three middle lanes out of the morning’s prelims. France’s Florent Manaudou and Mehdy Metella were in lanes 7 and 8, respectively. With the exception of Magnussen who jumped out to an early lead with 23.27 at the 50, everyone else was pretty much together at the turn. Magnussen finished with a half-body length lead at 48.55. It was France’s sprint king, Manaudou, who was able to reach the wall next, in 49.15. Italy’s Leonardi finished third (49.35) with Gilot (49.60) and Metella (49.62) on his tail.
Lauren Boyle, Katinka Hosszu and Joao Luiz Gomes Junior all broke French Open records on Day One, netting €1,000 bonuses per record. At the end of the meet the Open rewards the top five swims of the meet based on FINA points (rather than high-point awards as it’s more commonly done at US-based meets). So far, the leading performances are: