There's nothing like loss, heartache and disappointment to help decide what happens next: stay down and get out or get up and fight like hell. Jérémy Stravius opted for the latter last year after missing the cut for France in the Olympic 100m backstroke battle a year after sharing the world crown with teammate Camille Lacourt in Shanghai.
Buoyed by a 53.06 season world-leader in the 100m backstroke yesterday, Stravius, Amiens, struck again on day 3 at nationals in Rennes. After inflicting a second defeat on Lacourt, 24.61 to 24.73 in the 50m backstroke final, Stravius scored a 1:57.89 victory in the 200m medley. It was a pioneering moment for Gaul: no Frenchman had cracked 1:59 before this evening.
The national record had stood at 1:59.58 to Fabien Horth, since the last season of shiny suits in 2009. Stravius had a best of 1:59.87 from the Marseilles meet last month.
In Rennes this evening, Stravius drove a horse and cart through bygone standards as he opened with a 50m butterfly split of 24.61 on his way through a French time-warp: 54.30 (29.69); 1:29.97 (35.67); 1:57.89 (27.92).
Strip out shiny suits and Stravius, coached by Michel Chrétien, enters the all-time top 10 at No10, six of those ahead of him also in the 1:57 realm. The backstroke ace's effort today takes Gaul up the league of national records, all suits, from 22nd to 10th, and from 22nd to 8th in textile.
Little wonder that the plaudits came piling in, 2008 Olympic 100m free champion Alain Bernard tweeting: "Bravo pour ce beau record de France Jeremy".
After Stravius' break-back on backstroke yesterday, his coach said: "I was a little nervous for Jeremy. This race was symbolic for him. He was the favourite and Camille is a formidable opponent. He did it [won] and that's a success but how he did it can be improved on." He winces as he notes that Stravius "forgets efficiency in his effort to give it everything" and needs to work on managing "the release of energy at the right moment".
The silver in in the medley final went to Hungarian David Verraszto, training at Nice, in 2:01.03, the bronze to Ganesh Pedurand, Toulouse, in 2:02.32, locking out Quentin Coton, Antibes, in 2:02.79.
On a day that took the number of world-title qualifiers to six men and six women, Olympic 400m free champion Camille Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin in Nice, fell just 0.02sec shy of the French 100m free record with a 53.51 victory. In her wake came two 17-year-old clubmates, Charlotte Bonnet on 54.45 and Béryl Gastaldello on 55.63. Locked out of the medals but in with a shout of a relay at Barcelona world titles was Lauriane Haag, Toulouse, on 55.69.
Muffat, 23, clocked 53.61 yesterday and set another personal best today but while she is the fastest Frenchwoman under prevailing suit rules, the national mark is held at 53.49 by 2004 50m Olympic silver medallist Malia Metella, from 2009.
Muffat's Nice teammate and fellow Olympic champion for Gaul Yannick Agnel produced the sole sub-49sec effort in semis of the 100m freestyle. Out in 23.50, the 20-year-old produced the best homecoming split among the top 16, 25.20 to book lane 4 for the final in 48.70.
Either side of him will be William Meynard, 49.20, Agnel's fellow 4x100m free champion from London 2012 Fabien Gilot, 49.23 and working back to best after surgery following London 2012, with Grégory Mallet on 49.42, Mehdy Metella on 49.49, Romain Magula on 49.64, 4x100m London 2012 gold teammate Amaury Leveaux on 49.76 and Lorys Bourelly the last man in the final on 49.91.
In the women's 100m breaststroke, the top 5 all clocked 1:10, the top 6 were split by 0.86 and the podium went to Coralie Dobral, Montauban, in 1:10.20, Fanny Babou, St Esteve, 1:10.59, and Fanny Deberghes, Dauphins Palois, in 1:10.88, 0.18sec splitting bronze and 6th.
In these post-Manaudou days and with Muffat opting out of the longer challenge, it took 8:41.68 to win the women's 800m freestyle, the champion Aurélie Muller, Sarreguemines. The silver went to Morgane Rotthon in 8:42.82, the bronze to Margaux Verger Gourson in 8:49.29.
In semi-finals, Evelyn Verraszto (HUN) was in a class of her own on 2:12.74 for the lane 4 in the showdown tomorrow. The men's 200m breaststroke final will feature William Debourges, Antibes, in lane 4, after the 21-year-old clocked 2:14.71 at the helm of the semis.
The closing 4x200m free men's club relay had Antibes out front for gold in 7:27.49, Dauphins Toulouse silver in 7:29.07 and Courbevoie bronze in 7:33.63.
France team for Barcelona 2013 World Championships after day 3 of trials