Explanation of French Olympic Qualifying: Swimmers must ultimately pass under the FINA A-time in finals to earn an individual swim for the 2012 Olympics, but in many events there are certain standards that need to be met in each of the earlier rounds as well, so no loafing through prelims is allowed. Swimmers, even if they don’t hit those intermediary times, can still earn relay swims by winning in finals, where applicable. The French Federation does have the ability to make exceptions, but is generally very strict.
For a full list of French Olympic Qualifying Standards, go to this handbook and scroll to page 3. NL = Freestyle, Dos = Backstroke, Brasse = Breaststroke, Papillon = Butterfly, 4N = IM.
Men’s 100 Free – Final
Olympic Qualification: Finals-48.82
For the second time in this meet, the 19-year old Yannick Agnel made dropping the 400 free from his schedule pay off, as he took his second National Title. The latest came in the 100 free in a 48.02. That’s more than half-a-second better than his previous lifetime best, and ranks him 3rd in the world this year behind only the Australians.
Speaking of the Australians, they absolutely stunned the French with what they did at their trials in this race, and that was the talk of this meet early on. While Agnel responded, they’re still well behind the French as a group.
Fabien Gilot was 2nd in 48.38, Clement Lefert upset the big-guns with 3rd in 48.64, and Amaury Leveaux was 4th in 48.69 (he was a couple of tenths faster in the semifinals). Tied for 5th, and standing as alternates, are Alain Bernard (48.97) and Gregory Mallet (48.97).
This race was a huge changing-of-the-guard for the French, as the eldest sprinter Fred Bousquet was left off of the relay, while the youngest (Agnel) took the title. The next two oldest (Bernard and Mallet) were relegated to likely prelims duty. Gilot was the only swimmer to buck that trend, and he’s the only swimmer that is likely to repeat his finals duty from last year’s relay (Meynard was out in the semi’s, as was Stravius, and Bernard is only slated for a prelims swim).
Men’s 200 Back – Semi’s
Olympic Qualification – Semi’s 1:59.77/Finals – 1:58.48
Without Camille Lacourt racing the 200 back (still odd that he doesn’t at least try for grins – he scratched the race in prelims), Benjamin Stasiulis took the top seed in 1:57.28. That’s already right on the edge of his best time, and he should comfortably add this 200 back to his swim in the 100 from earlier in the meet.
The second seed in finals is American/French dual citizen Eric Ress in 1:58.78. This is his big focus event (he was the National Champion in 2010) and the reason why he sat out this college season. There isn’t anybody who is going to challenge his standing in this race, but he will have to drop another few tenths in finals to make the Olympic Team. He’s been under that standard, but not since the era of rubber-suits. That drop should likely come in the back half of this race, and specifically the closing 50.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke – Finals
Olympic Qualification: Prelims – 2:16.00|Semis – 2:13.11| Finals 2:11.74
We may have witnessed the end of an era in French swimming, as Hugues Duboscq again failed to make the Olympic Team in this 200 breast. That is despite winning the race in 2;13.27, which wasn’t even close to the Olympic qualifying time. Unlike the 100, he was still in contention coming into this race for an individual swim, but just like the 100 he added a ton of time to miss the cut.
Unless the French choose to take him as a relay alternate (and after last year’s World Championship disaster where they didn’t even final I doubt they’d chance it), this may be the end of his career.
Thomas Dahlia took 2nd in 2:13.83, and Giacomo Perez-Dortona took 3rd in 2:14.54.
Women’s 200 Fly – Finals
Olympic Qualification – Semi’s-2:10.28/Finals 2:08.95
Lara Grangeon made up for the upset loss she suffered on Wednesday in the 200 fly with a win in the 200 fly in 2:09.41. That was 6-tenths away from the Olympic qualifying standard (though she was already ruled out of that based on her semi-final swim). Aurore Mongel, who is almost 10-years Grangeon’s senior, took 2nd in 2:09.67. She was still in the running after prelims, but fell short in finals.