SS Digest: Everything You Need To Know From The French Elite Championships

2021 FRENCH ELITE SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2021 French Elite Championships—the second and final Olympic-qualifying meet for France’s swimmers—ran last week in Chartres, and if you were caught up in the buzz surrounding the U.S. Olympic Trials, you may have missed out on what transpired.

Just as we did for the Australian Olympic Trials, the SwimSwam Digest returns to bring you all the information needed to catch up on how France’s best swimmers performed with Tokyo qualification on the line.

TOP PERFORMERS

LEON MARCHAND

Recently-turned 19-year-old Leon Marchand won three events and subsequently qualified for Tokyo in all of them, resetting a French National Record in the process.

On the opening day of the meet, Marchand dropped a staggering five seconds from his French Record in the 400 IM, putting up a time of 4:09.65 to become the fourth-fastest European in history.

An Arizona State commit, Marchand followed with victories in the 200 fly (1:55.40) and 200 IM (1:58.03), giving him three Olympic events in Tokyo.

MEHDY METELLA

2016 Olympic silver medalist Mehdy Metella arguably had the performance of the meet in the men’s 100 butterfly, winning the final in a time of 50.87 to fall just .02 shy of his National Record set in 2019. The swim moves the 28-year-old into fifth in the 2020-21 world rankings, and fourth among men racing the event in Tokyo.

That performance comes on the heels of Metella undergoing shoulder surgery at the beginning of 2020, a procedure in which he thought would leave him out of the Tokyo Olympic Games before the postponement.

The 2017 World Championship bronze medalist in the 100 freestyle, Metella placed fourth in that event in a time of 48.93, so he’ll likely factor prominently on the men’s 400 free relay in Tokyo. France has won either gold (2012) or silver (2008, 2016) in the event at the last three Olympic Games, with Metella swimming the fastest lead-off leg in the final (48.08) in Rio.

MARIE WATTEL

Wattel won two events, and was the top French finisher in three (taking second to Sweden’s Louise Hansson in the 100 fly) to solidify entries in three individual events in Tokyo.

Wattel dropped nearly three-tenths in the women’s 50 free (24.54), added .02 in the 100 free (53.34), and was just under four-tenths off her PB in the 100 fly (57.37).

MAXIME GROUSSET

Fresh off cracking the 48-second barrier for the first time at the European Championships, Grousset went .01 faster in the men’s 100 free final here in 47.89 to decisively top the field by almost a full second. Grousset is one of nine men that have broken 48 seconds this season.

The 22-year-old also won the 50 free in a best time of 21.74, giving him a pair of individual events at next month’s Olympic Games.

Florent Manaudou, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 silver medalist in the 50 free, was the runner-up to Grousset in 21.84, reaffirming his spot in the event next month.

OTHER NOTEWORTHY PERFORMERS

  • A pair of French National Records went down on the women’s side in non-Olympic 50m events. Melanie Henique broke the 50 fly record in 25.17, and Analia Pigree took down the 50 back record in 27.59.
  • Fantine Lesaffre was an absolute workhorse over the six-day meet, picking up victories in the women’s 200 back, 200 breast and 400 IM, and runner-up showings in the 400 free and 200 IM. Lesaffre ends up making the Olympic team in the 200 IM, where she’ll join Cyrielle Duhamel, who won the event in Chartres in a time of 2:11.57.
  • 2016 Olympic finalist Charlotte Bonnet won the women’s 200 free (1:56.67) and took second to Wattel in the 100 free (53.71), qualifying her for the Games in both events.
  • Mewen Tomac swept the men’s 100 (53.13) and 200 backstroke (1:56.82), qualifying for Tokyo in both events, as did Yohann Ndoye Brouard.
  • 18-year-old Tunisian Ayoub Hafnaoui was a standout in the men’s distance free events, placing first in both the 400 (3:46.16) and 800 (7:45.54). Both are well under his previous best times (3:47.79, 7:49.09), and having already qualified for Tokyo in the 800, his time in the 400 should allow him an entry into that event at the Games as well.

THE ROSTER

The projected roster features 15 swimmers with individual events for the Games, with an additional 10 as relay-only athletes.

Beryl Gastaldello was the biggest name failing to qualify individually, coming incredibly close in four different events. Gastaldello will get the nod as a relay-only swimmer.

Note: roster is not yet official.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS

RELAY-ONLY

  • Beryl Gastaldello – women’s 4×100 freestyle
  • Anouchka Martin – women’s 4×100 freestyle
  • Margaux Fabre – women’s 4×100 freestyle, 4×200 freestyle
  • Théo Bussiere – men’s 4×100 medley (breaststroke)
  • Clément Mignon – men’s 4×100 freestyle
  • Charles Rihoux – men’s 4×100 freestyle
  • Hadrien Salvan – men’s 4×200 freestyle
  • Enzo Tesic – men’s 4×200 freestyle
  • Lucile Tessariol – women’s 4×200 freestyle
  • Assia Touati – women’s 4×200 freestyle

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Old Retired Guy
1 month ago

LOOK OUT..!!  Mehdy Metella‘s gonna try to pull an Anthony Nesty at the Olympics..!! *grin*

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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