World Swimming Championships: Gilot lifts France in relay mayhem
Former Egyptian national swimmer Omar El Hamawy casts his eye over the opening day of the Swimming World Championships in Barcelona.
Day one provided some impressive swims. But it was the insanity of the relay that provided the most entertainment.
The men's 4x100 metre freestyle was quite a spectacle. Thirty-two swimmers were in and out of the water in just a little over three minutes. Big bodies fuelled with gallons on adrenaline flying off the blocks, powering through the water and handing over to teammates.
With only 0.4 seconds separating the top four teams, the final ranking was the same we saw a year ago in London. France on top, followed by the USA and Russia, and once again the Australians go home empty handed, settling for fourth.
And once again it was that adrenaline that turned the predictions upside down. On paper, the Americans, the Aussies and Russians should have been battling it out for the world title, with France not expected in the same camera frame by the end of the race.
London 2012 hero Yannik Agnel started slow for the French in a disappointing 48.76, handing over seventh to Florent Manaudou, while the other three teams were about three quarters of a second ahead. They did not give up, though, with Manaudou pulling them back to fourth
It was, however, the emphatic swim from Fabian Gilot that brought the French into contention. The experienced 29-year old clocked 46.90, the fastest split of the race, and handed over to Jeremy Stravius who finished the job strong for the win.
The third swimmers for the US and Russia, Anthony Ervin and Vlad Morozov respectively, swam two of the fastest splits of the night, with 47.44 and 47.40, but Gilot reeled them in on the second 50, closing the gap significantly.
Prior to these championships Gilot was ranked 28th in the world with a season best 48.74. But the honour of representing your country and the thrill and excitement of the race seems to have pumped him up so much to produce a very special swim at the right time.
The French seem to have learned from their mistakes. After earning more silver medals than they would have liked over the past few years, they managed to put together great races to win in London and again here in Barcelona, against odds.