Athens, Georgia: Former Olympic and triple world champion Laure Manaudou marked her return to the pool after a two-year absence on Thursday with a 50m freestyle personal best and a runner-up finish.
The 24-year-old Frenchwoman clocked 25.93 sec in the morning heats to improve on her previous personal best of 26.12 -- set in 2007 -- and lead the way into the evening final in a meeting on the University of Georgia campus.
She was even faster in the final, clocking 25.84 sec to finish second to Megan Romano, who swims collegiately for the University of Georgia and for the local Athens Bulldog Swim Club. Romano edged Manaudou to win in 25.81.
Manaudou, who won gold in the 400m freestyle at the Athens Olympics in 2004, is also set to line up in the 100m and 200m freestyle, and 100m and 200m backstroke at the meeting as she begins her campaign to eventually feature at the 2012 Olympics.
She confirmed her intention to come out of retirement last month, saying she had regained her hunger after retiring from the sport in September 2009 and then giving birth to a baby girl the following April.