When Yannick Agnel said he as giving up the 400 free for good to focus on the 100 and 200, he apparently didn’t mean in short course. Today at French Nationals in he swam a 3:32.25 which knocked half-a-second off of the suited 3:32.77 that Germany’s Paul Biedermann swam at the 2009 Berlin World Cup circuit for the fastest 400 free in short course meters history.
What’s really scary is that Agnel knocked more than 7 seconds off of his old personal best of 3:39.91 French Record from 2010.
Unfortunately, the timing system was having some issues on day 1 in Angers, so his exact splits aren’t available, but needless to say he was flying on this race.
This is a record that has only been held by now 7 different swimmers in history, and when it is broken, it is usually by large margins (even larger than the half-second that Agnel chunked out of it). Biedermann, for example, took almost two seconds off of Grant Hackett’s record, who took almost 5 from Ian Thorpe.
The French are looking on fire as they prepare for their clear fall focus meet, the European Championships that they are hosting in Chartres very soon. Aside from Agnel’s swim, Olympic Champion Florent Manaudou moved to 14th on the all-time list with a 20.86 to win the 50 free, which is a National Championship meet record. He’s now just half-a-second from Roland Schoeman’s World Record of 20.30.
Jeremy Stravius had a fairly disappointing summer, making the Olympic team only as a part of the French 800 free relay, but he’s swimming with a vengance this fall. He broke the French National Record with a 1:54.50 in the men’s 200 IM. The French men have never been great IM’ers, but that swim took almost a second off of his old 1:55.46 set at this same meet last December. No other French swimmer in history has been better than a 1:57.
Benjamin Stasiulis is another swimmer responding to a disappointing Olympics, where he was only 31st in the 100 back, with big swims here. He won the 200 in 1:52.07.
Giacomo Perez Dortona, the new top French breaststroke, won the 100 in 58.31 – four-tenths better than his own PB in the event set way back in 2008. Finally, in the 100 fly, the young Medhy Metella is finally fulfilling his massive potential, winning in 51.30. That’s seven-tenths faster than he’s ever been. He was followed in 2nd by Spanish butterflier Rafael Munoz, a World Record holder who has struggled to even qualify for international events since the rubber suits went away. Munoz is now training in France at Marseilles, and placed 2nd in 51.87.
The women were swimming very well too; Camille Muffat won the women’s 100 free in 52.73, a new Championships Record, but was followed by a 53.65 from Charlotte Bonnet which is a new National 17 & under record. For Muffat, that is within three-tenths of her best time, and with how well she swam at her one World Cup stop, I think at this point it’s almost an expectation that she’s going to get either a 200 or 400 World Record this week or next.
That was one of four National Age Records set by the French on the day. In the 200 fly, Marie Wattel took the 15 & under record by touching 4th in 2:14.89, while Camille Wishaupt took the 14 & under record with a 2:16.84 for 7th. Another 14’s record went down in the 50 breaststroke thanks to a 33.25 fromMaud Raynert.
If there were a slightly disappointing swim on the first day of competition, it would probably be Laure Manaudou’s 100 backstroke. She won in 58.07. It’s by no means a bad time, but it’s certainly not enough to stave off plans for retirement.
The European Championships begin exactly one week from today on November 22nd.