Manaudou qualifies for London
Dunkirk - Former Olympic champion Laure Manaudou secured her ticket for the 2012 London Games on Tuesday after claiming the French title in the 100m backstroke.
Manaudou, the 400m freestyle champion in Athens in 2004, clocked a winning time of 1:00.16. The maximum qualifying time was 1:00.82.
It was Manaudou's best time in the event since returning to competition in June 2011, just over a year after the birth of her child in April 2010 with fellow French swimming star Frederick Bousquet.
It also means she will compete at her third Olympics, three years after retiring from the sport.
Manaudou had a miserable experience at her last Olympics, in 2008 at Beijing, where she finished eighth and last in the 400m, seventh in the 100m freestyle and failed to qualify for the 200m backstroke final.
Although sure to face stiff competition in the British capital this August, Manaudou was relieved to have qualified.
"I'm not going to say it's the same as winning Olympic gold, but it's a relief," said the Frenchwoman, sporting elaborately-painted fingernails featuring the name of her baby daughter Manon.
"We're going to really have to focus and give it everything we have" at the Games.
Joining Manaudou in London will be 19-year-old Yannick Agnel, who beat his own French record on his way to a third consecutive national title in the 200m.
His time of 1:44.42 was the best time this year in the distance.
Amaury Leveaux, who won the men's 50m butterfly on Sunday, confirmed his intentions this year, following two mediocre seasons, by claiming his Olympic spot for the men's 200m freestyle in a time of 1:46.72.
Camille Lacourt, the European champion in the men's 100m backstroke, also booked his ticket for London after defending his national title in a time of 52.75, the best time this year.
Team-mate Jeremy Stravius, however, will miss out on London. Despite finishing in 54.04 and inside the qualifying time, he was beaten to the second Olympic spot by Amiens club-mate Benjamin Stasiulis, in 53.98.
The fourth day of the championships is on Wednesday.