The French swimmers were on fire on the first day of the Canet stop of the 2012 Mare Nostrum Grand Prix. In France’s mega-swimming complex, we saw a textile best go down at the hands of France’s Camille Muffat (have to wonder if she saw Allison Schmitt’s 1:55.0 last weekend) and another huge time for Yannick Agnel in the same distance.
Women’s 200 Breaststroke
Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui continued to be hot in this Mare Nostrum series, by winning her 4th breaststroke race in 4 tries in this 200 in 2:25.22 – that’s about four-tenths slower than her National Record set last week in Barcelona. The former European Junior silver medalist, now still only 17, adds another to her list of what is now the 13-best times in Spanish history.
Florida Gator Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir broke the National Record of her native Iceland to finish 2nd in 2:27.11, followed by Canadian Kierra Smith in 2:27.36 – her second-straight podium in the race.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
Great Britain’s Andrew Willis looked much better early-on in Canet than he did in Barcelona, with a win in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:12.66. France’s Giacomo Perez-Dortona was 2nd in 2:14.89, and China’s Ruipeng Zue was 3rd in 2;15.27.
Women’s 100 Backstroke
The UK’s Lizzie Simmonds, racing for the first time since British Trials, won in 1:00.71 – just three-tenths off of where she was in March. Young Canadian star Sinead Russell was 2nd in 1:01.26, with Dutch sprinter Femke Heemskerk 3rd in 1:01.86.
Based on her times from 2011 (she almost broke a minute), Heemskerk is the most likely option to swim the backstroke leg of the Dutch 400 medley relay, but this swim won’t do a ton to reenforce that.
Men’s 100 Backstroke
France’s Camille Lacourt was locked in a great battle with Australia’s Ben Treffers in this 100 backstroke, and after Lacourt put up a great first-50 meters, he faded a bit on the back-half. Still, the half-second lead on the turn was enough to hold off Treffers 54.24-54.32.
Britain’s Chris Walker-Hebborn took 3rd in 55.26, with Liam Tancock taking 4th in 55.45. Tancock has had some flops-of-races at this time of his season, but that mark is really not very good for him in a final, especially against this level of competition.
Men’s and Women’s 200 Free
The French 200 freestylers absolutely unleashed on this 200 free, beginning with Camille Muffat in 1;54.66 – which is a new Meet and French National Record in the race. That eclipses her 1:54.87 set at French Trials in March. Simultaneously, that set a new Textile Best in the event, and was the 4th-best swim of all time. Now, in the course of three months, Muffat has 2 of the best 6 times in history. She is locked-and-loaded.
Her countrymate Yannick Agnel wasn’t far off her blistering speed with a 1:45.24 to win the men’s race, ahead of Olympic Nice teammates Clement Lefert in 1:47.22. Agnel was faster at trials, but this gives him the three fastest swims in the World this year (each from three different meets). His obvious shift-of-focus to speed is becoming more evident each time he races, as he opened this swim in 51.39 (similar times from Worlds last year opened in 51.7’s).
Muffat’s swim overshadowed an outstanding 200 free final across the board. Heemskerk took 2nd in 1:57.78, followed by Britain’s Caitlin McClatchey in 1:57.90; for the latter, that’s close to her best time from British Nationals.
Canada’s Barbara Jardin was 4th in 1:58.50 and South Africa’s Karin Prinsloo 5th in 1:58.67, both of which are faster than their respective Olympic Trials meets.
Men’s 100 Fly
Coming off of a great Russian Championships, where he broke 52-seconds but missed the team after stumbling in the finals, Nikita Konovalov won this 100 fly in 52.73, just out-touching Sweden’s Lars Frolander in 52.79. Brazil’s Kaio Almeida took this race out very hard (a bit surprising for the 200 specialist), but couldn’t hold on and fell back to 3rd in 52.99.
Spain’s Rafa Munoz, perhaps still seeking his FINA A time, was 4th in 53.07.
Women’s 100 Fly
Ingvild Sinldal, Norway’s first European Champion in 20 years, built off of that momentum to win in Canet in 58.53 – about a half-second off of her swim from two weeks ago. She was pitted in this race against Canada’s Katerine Savard, in a matchup of two swimmers with extremely fast front-halfs. Ultimately, it was Snildal’s back-half that got her the gold, with Savard taking 2nd in 58.56.
Britain’s Fran Halsall was 3rd in 58.97. That’s not a good time for her especially compared to the 57-mid’s she was going in June of 2011. The difference, though, is that this season she’s not tapering for a mid-June Olympic qualifier, having already secured her spot on the team, so in that sense, it’s actually quite similar to her parallel swims in 2010.
Sweden’s Martina Granstrom, with the weight of an Olympic bid lifted, was 4th in 58.99.
Women’s 200 IM
The young Canadian group on the first two stops of this tour continue to rack-up hardware, as Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson moved from 3rd in Barcelona to the champion in Canet with a 2:13.94 – her best time. The young swimmer should become a star in Canadian swimming between 2012 and 2016. She’s not as good of a backstroker as a Julia Wilkinson – her country’s defending champion – but she’s better balanced with a strong breaststroke leg.
China’s Yuzhe He was 2nd in 2:14.74, and Lara Grangeon was 3rd in 2:14.75.
Men’s 200 IM
South Africa’s Chad le Clos is back in Europe after barnstorming the World Cup series here in the fall, and continues to swim well away from home – he won the men’s 200 IM in 2:01.14. He’s really getting a great closing kick in this 200 IM, which owes to his heavy training as a 400 IM’er.
Brazil’s Henrique Rodrigues was 2nd in 2:02.37.