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Bousquet stuns Bernard in final

FREDERICK Bousquet upset new world record holder Alain Bernard in a pulsating 100-meter freestyle final at the French championships in Montpellier on Friday.

Bousquet clocked a best time of 47.15 seconds to beat Bernard by 0.36 of a second and clinch the remaining spot for this year's world championships in Rome.

On Thursday, Bernard became the first man to complete the distance under 47 seconds when he clocked 46.94 in the semifinals. The record has yet to be ratified since the he was wearing a new suit designed by his sponsor Arena.

The international swimming federation (FINA) is expected to rule on the matter within three weeks.

"The ratification request for the suit was sent to FINA before the March 31 deadline," said Arena France Chief Executive Nicolas Preault. "I am not worried."

Bousquet was wearing a FINA-ratified Jaked suit, which is manufactured in Italy and helped Spaniard Rafael Munoz beat the 50-meter butterfly world record earlier this month.

"It is not the suit that swims, I do," said Bousquet, who was cheered on by girlfriend Laure Manaudou from the stands.

Manaudou, the 2004 Olympic champion in the 400, said earlier this season she was taking a long break from swimming following her poor showing at the Beijing Games.

Bousquet, who partly trains in the United States, believes his performance, the third fastest ever recorded, has sent a clear message to the American relay team before the world championships.

"They watch Alain and Amaury (Leveaux) and I know they were in front of their computers to check the results," said Bousquet. "This race is a nice message for them."

France was beaten by the US in the 4x100 freestyle relay at the Beijing Games in world record time after Jason Lezak leapfrogged Bernard in the final meters of the race.

In Friday's final, three men swam under 48 seconds, William Meynard finishing third in 47.77 seconds.

Leveaux, the 50 freestyle silver medalist in Beijing, was fourth with a Tyr suit.

Bernard switched to his old suit for the final and said problems with his goggles and the pressure prevented him from breaking the world record again. "I had this technical problem that really bothered me," he said.


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