Watch Laure Manaudou Break Janet Evans’ WR in 400 Free, 12 May 2006

The French Federation published on its Facebook page this morning the video of Laure Manaudou‘s historic 400 meter freestyle, swum 10 years ago today, at the 2006 French Elite Long Course Nationals in Tours.

The French distance swimmer had broken the European record in the distance two summers earlier at age 17 when she won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens with 4:05.34, but Janet Evans’ 1988 world mark of 4:03.85 eluded Manaudou. She made it a personal priority, and after a difficult 2005, she approached the 2005-06 season with renewed vigor. She and then-coach Philippe Lucas worked on her upfront speed and she finally broke 2:00 in the 200 meter free that spring.

In Tours, Manaudou planned to go for the record. Lucas invited the Romanian Camilla Potec to the meet to serve as Manaudou’s rabbit, but Potec failed to qualify for the final. All alone, Manaudou took it out very quickly. She was more than 2 seconds under Evans’ pace at the halfway mark, but seemed to have fallen off over the second half of the race. With the crowd on its feet, Manaudou finished the last 50 with renewed vigor and smashed through to 4:03.03, taking a .82 chunk out of the world mark.

Here are the comparative 100s splits:

Laure Manaudou 2006 Janet Evans 1988
58.30 59.99
2:00.00 (1:01.70) 2:02.14 (1:02.15)
3:02.07 (1:02.07) 3:03.40 (1:01.26)
4:03.03 (1:00.96) 4:03.85 (1:00.45)

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5 years ago

Lucas is now married to the ‘rabbit’, Potec.

Swimmer A
5 years ago

That is the most steady and consistent 2 beat kick I’ve ever seen. I thought at some point in the race she’d really bring in the legs and fly home. But no, it’s a single arm stroke followed by a single kick the whole way. And she speeds up by literally just increasing the rate of those two things. 4:03.0 is still amazing by today’s standards though, so I won’t be too critical. Laure Manaudou was freakin good.

Reply to  Swimmer A
5 years ago

That’s the beauty of swimming! Different strokes can and do work for different folks. Love the high elbow catch Manaudou has.

bobo gigi
5 years ago

Laure was a machine at that time.
2006 and 2007 have been her best years.
It was historical to see that legendary and so impressive record fall.

Janet Evans’ parts of her race in 1988

5 years ago

How many medals does Laura have?

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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