Sparks will fly, water will boil in the final of the 50m freestyle at French trials in Dunkirk tomorrow after the semis produced this little lot from the Speedo-LZR-and-TYR-Tracer-Rise-wearing speedsters of Gaul: first semi- 21.67 from Alain Bernard (CN Antibes), championship record; second semi - 21.53 from Amaury Leveaux (Mullhouse ON), champ rec - and he may well have been wearing a TYR suit but will update when we know for sure - followed by 21.60 from Fred Bousquet (CN Marseilles) and 22.06 from his clubmate Fabien Gilot.
Bousquet came back with a bang less than an hour later, with a 51.83 national record in the 100m butterfly semis to take the helm for the final. That makes Bousquet eighth best all-time. His best until a month ago: 53.27. His 2007 best: 53.65. In March he went 52.87, then in heats at trials 52.29 and now a 51.83. That's progress for you.
And back to the 50m freestyle - in which the three of the top four wore Speedo and one, Leveaux, wore a TYR Tracer Rise, a suit that looks in cut very similar to the Speedo - this is what happens to the all-time top ten as a result:
Jager almost gone from the top 10 after all these years and Cullen Jones (USA and Nike) and Cesar Cielo (BRA), demoted, at least for the moment. Sure the French sprinters are all working hard. Sure they are gaining significantly from the suits too, and it seems that TYR is up with the technology. No arguments.
Malia Metella (Dauphins Toulouse) became the 11th member (in at 11 on the all-time list) of the sub-54sec club with a 53.99sec national record that swept her 0.28sec inside the standard she set in her semi yesterday. Metella had company: Alena Popchanka (Edinburgh and Paris Racing) clocked 54.49 for the second berth, with Celine Couderc (CN Cevennes Ales) on 54.62 and Hanna Scherba (CS Clichy) on 55.24. Again, a stronger relay, were Laure Manaudou there in top form. Time and decisions will tell.
The top three finishers in the 200m backstroke all dipped below the Beijing qualifying standard but Laure Manaudou's latest beau is the man who will not race in China. Pierre Roger (Paris Racing) set a championship record of 1:58.42 ahead of Simon Dufour (Montpellier), on 1:59.52, with Benjamin Stasiulis (Mullhouse ON) on 1:59.57.
Manaudou (Mullhouse) herself sailed through to the final of the 200m backstroke, in a championship record of 2:08.01. The 200m breaststroke final went to Sophie de Ronchi (ES Massy Natation) in 2:28.20, which put her on the plane to Beijing by 0.01sec.
No such luck for Christophe Soulier (Montpellier) who was a stroke outside the cut with a 2:02.37 victory in the 200m medley.