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Big Guns Head For Marseilles Test

Feb 28, 2013  - Craig Lord

Double Olympic silver medallist Mireia Belmonte (ESP) is set for a busy time at the 2nd Meeting International de la Méditérranée over three days from tomorrow: the 800m free and 200m butterfly medallist from London 2012 is scheduled to race in eleven events.

Belmonte is down to race the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500m free, the 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m breaststroke and the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly, each a test at a time of training with Sabadell and coach Fred Vergnoux.

Joining the club of multiple challenges at a meet that boasts a fine entry is Britain and Loughborough's Francesca Halsall, down to race the 50 and 100m free, backstroke and 'fly. There to provide an edge will be former Olympic 100m backstroke champion and world-class sprint freestyler Natalie Coughlin, of the US. Both Halsall and Coughlin will then head to Leeds for the British Gas International in northern England next week.

In the men's freestyle dash in Marseilles, the hosts boast Olympic champion Florent Manaudou and Fred Bousquet, up against Americans Anthony Ervin, 2000 Olympic dash champion, and Nathan Adrian, Olympic 100m champion. In the mix: Fabien Gilot, on a comeback after a break for surgery last year, and Konrad Czerniak (POL). In the 100m, they're joined by France's other sprint giants, William Meynard and Gregory Mallet, with Grant Turner completing the sub 50sec club on the entry list.

Marseille's Camille Lacourt takes on Britain and Loughborough's Liam Tancock and Spain's Aschwin Wildeboer and Miguel Rando in the sprint backstroke events, with Tancock also entered in the 200m. Marseilles Giacomo Dortona is the sole sub minute entry in the 100m breaststroke and the strongest in the 200m field by 3sec, on paper. The 100m butterfly features a clash between Czerniak and Rafa Munoz, the Spaniard based in Marseilles and down twice, once for country, once for French club, each with a different entry time by his name but doubtless heading to occupy just the one lane.