On day two of the meet at Montpellier, Camille Muffat was on fire and marked a 4:03.21 to win the women’s 400 free.
That swim marks Muffat’s lifetime-best swim, with still 6 weeks to go before French Trials. Muffat does not intend to rest fully for Trials, presuming that she’ll qualify for the Olympics without any problem, so there could have been a bit of rest into this swim without much risk to her Olympic placement.
Still, the defending Worlds bronze medalist has a tough road ahead if she wants to stand on the podium in London. The 22-year old has been 4:03 twice in the last two months (she was a 4:03.6 at US Nationals), but thus far in her career she’s never peaked for the year’s “big meet” in this race. That includes 2010, when she added a painful 6 seconds at the European Championships in Budapest.
With a pair of 4:00’s/4:01’s likely coming from Adlington and Pellegrini, and Allison Schmitt swimming better than she ever has, Muffat will have to drop again at the end of July if she wants to improve her standing.
The runner-up in the race was Dutch swimmer Femke Heemskerk in 4:09.36. That’s the 2nd-best time of her career. She’s swum this time more often recently (three times in her last three meets) than ever before in her career. It seems as though her focus on endurance is served to prevent another back-half stumble like she had in the finals of the 200 in Shanghai.
French teenager Charlotte Bonnet went the best time of her career as well in 4:15.61 for 3rd. She’s a very strong 100/200 freestyler for the French, but things get tough for her surprisingly fast in this 400.
In other sprint races, Dutch swimmer Inge Dekker doubled in the 50 free (24.96) and 100 fly (58.77).
In the men’s 400 free, Muffat’s Nice teammate Yannick Agnel also excelled to win in 3:47.80, which bumps him up to 4th in the world this year behind three Chinese swimmers. He’s having a much better meet here in Montpellier than he did two weeks ago at a home event in Nice.
In the men’s 50, the young Florent Manaudou took the win in 22.52. Unlike his older sister, he’s developing as a pure-sprinter, and is poised to become the new generation of French sprinters after 2012. He bettered (much elder) Marseilles teammates Fabien Gilot (22.64) and Gregory Mallet (23.14) in that race.
Manaudou was the butterflier on last year’s French medley that missed the finals at Worlds, but he’s sat out both sprint butterflies at this meet. Instead, Clement Lefert won the 100 in 53.01. That’s the best time of his career in textile, and way more significantly is the fastest that any Frenchman has been in the race in over two years on a flat-start.