France’s Laure Manaudou, the three-time World Champion, is competing in her first significant action since announcing her return from retirement last September this weekend in Athens, Georgia at a USA Swimming Senior Sectional meet.
In her first race, the prelims of the 50 free, she swam a 25.93, which is a career-best time (though don’t read too much into that, she swam it only a dozen or so times in her career). She is now, however, moving more towards the shorter races, instead of the 200, 400, and 800 meter races that brought her so much success earlier in her career. This is partially a product of where her desires lie, and are partially a product of her environment: training at Auburn with Brett Hawke. It’s only natural for a swimmer working in one of the world’s top sprint programs to gravitate towards sprinting.
Manaudou has a full schedule this weekend, and will also swim the 100 and 200 freestyles and the 100 and 200 backstrokes. She will face several very strong tests, especially from the Georgia crew that is not headed to Shanghai for World’s. That includes Chelsea Nauta, Shannon Vreeland, and Megan Romano. She’ll also face off against UNC’s Carly Smith in the backstroke races; Smith was a B-finalist at 2010 Nationals in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes.