France has been on every 4x100m freestyle podium at Olympic and World long-course levels since 2007, one Olympic and two world titles in the mix atop three silvers and two bronzes. A decade into a bull run and here comes Budapest 2017. No Agnel, No Manaudou. And now no relay at all, unless selectors have a change of heart. The nation has Mehdy Metella and a 48.23 for the solo two-lap crown at French Championships and world-title trials in Schiltigheim, Strasbourg, today, to thank for giving selectors cause for relief – and a headache at the same time. The combined time of the top 4 home fell shy of the Budapest cut. Selectors must now scratch their heads. Meanwhile, the other saving grace of Metella’s 48.2 was that it avoided Swiss visitor Jeremy Desplanches from stealing the headlines once more this week in Strasbourg, though share it with him France must after he set a 1:57.4 Swiss 200IM record for world No 4 on the rankings so far this year
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