Léon Marchand as a big star of the French Championships organized in Rennes from June 11 to 16. At his side, the gratin of tricolor swimming, from Florent Manaudou to Maxime Grousset via Marie Wattel or Charlotte Bonnet, finds himself in Brittany, the only opportunity for swimmers to win their selection for the Fukuoka World Championships (Japan) in five weeks (July 23-30).
But obviously, the most scrutinized will be Léon Marchand, who at 21 is already no longer a swimming hope. Double world champion in Budapest last year (in the 200 and 400 m medley) and announced star of the Paris Olympics next year, the Toulousain has continued to progress this season. In brilliant form, he made an impression by remaining undefeated during the university season in the United States, where he trains under the orders of Bob Bowman, the former emblematic coach of Michael Phelps, the legend with 23 Olympic titles. .
Enough to arouse the excitement of the French public who have not seen him swim at home since the selections for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. But this pressure does not yet seem to reach the young Toulousain. "I don't have too many expectations, I just try to enjoy day by day," he said Thursday during a press conference at the TOEC of Toulouse, the club of his debut. "The French championships, for me, it's a must, but it's not necessarily my final goal for the year," he explained. “This year, I am focusing more on the world championships in July. There are times to be done and you still have to be in good shape to achieve them. His goal in Japan: "do better" than in Hungary last year. "Last year I didn't have too much experience at international senior level, I managed to win two races, it was great, but I think I can do better."
But while waiting to shine on the world stage, it is in Brittany that it will be necessary to shine. “One year before the Paris Olympics, these French championships serve as a great rehearsal by allowing swimmers to put themselves under the same selection conditions as next year”, explained the technical director of French swimming Julien. Idle. In Rennes, Marchand will set off on Sunday for the 200m breaststroke. He will continue his week with the 200 and 400m medley, the 100 and 200m butterfly, as well as the 200m freestyle and is delighted to be on deck every day: "It's going to be cool to be able to swim against French swimmers", did he declare. "It's good because we're all about the same age, between 20 and 24-25," he added. "It went very well at the Tokyo Olympics, something was created even if the results were not there yet (only one medal for the Blues, editor's note)."
In its wake, the blue collective is indeed regaining color after several gloomy years and Léon Marchand is not the only one who can shine in Rennes. “Last year, it was seen in Budapest where we did well in our competition (eight podiums, editor's note). We all have a bit of the same delirium, it's going well and I can't wait to see them again.