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Muffat The First Inside 1:56 200 Free

Apr 13, 2013  - Craig Lord

Olympic champions from Nice Camille Muffat and Yannick Agnel set up their finales on the penultimate day of action at French nationals and world-title trials in Rennes.

Muffat's 1:55.69 in the second semi of the 200m freestyle is the best in the world so far this year. In the final, the clock is likely to be the greater challenge for the Olympic 400m champion and 200m silver medallist from London 2012, Charlotte Bonnet closest to the Olympic 400m champion in 1:57.70. The world's season best had been 1:56.55, by sarah Sjostrom (SWE) at the Swim Cup in Eindhoven last week.

Agnel booked lane 4 for the 200m free final in 1:47.28. Either side of him will be Grégory Malllet, Marseilles, on 1:48.38, and man of the meet, Jérémy Stravius, Amiens, on 1:48.94. 

Stravius has had a fine week at in Rennes, with world-class victories in the 50 and 100m backstroke and 200m medley a year after he missed the cut for the Olympic 100m backstroke for Gaul and left his world-champion status behind him in 2011. 

Before the 200m free semi today, Stravius had already booked lane 4 for the final of the 100m butterfly tomorrow. His semi effort, 52.59, was just inside his heats time, 52.67, with Spain's Marseilles base Rafa Munoz 52.71 for lane 5 in the showdown on the last day of nationals.

There were just two finals in Rennes today and the crown in one of them went abroad, though there were rays of sunshine for France. Eszter Dara, of Hungary clocked 59.63 (27.75) to take the 100m butterfly title, leaving Marie Wattell, from the Nice stable of coach Fabrice Pellerin, Muffat and Agnel, second in 59.71 (27.83). Wattel is 15 and just setting out in senior waters. The bronze went to another teenager under Pellerin's guidance, Béryl Gastadello, 17, on 1:00.04.  In the women's 200m breaststroke final none broke 2:30, the crown to Coralie Dobral, Montauban, in 2:30.39.

The session closed with Marseilles on 3:38.23 for victory in the 4x100m medley, Camille Lacourt on 54.25, Max Bussiere on 1:03.25, Fred Bousquet on 52.60 and Florent Manaudou on 48.13. Manaudou's best solo is a 49.24, while he has not made the French cut so far over 100m on the biggest of occasions and didn't enter the 100m at trials this week.