He is only 20 years old, but is already in the big leagues. Léon Marchand won his second world title in the 200 meter medley on Wednesday June 22. A few days earlier, on the 400 meters version, he had offered his first coronation. The icing on the cake, he also finished silver in the 200-meter butterfly. In short, for his first world championships, the success is total. If certain ingredients, such as his natural serenity or his talent, emerge from the young man, the asset in his bag can also be on the side of his trainer: Bob Bowman. The one who forged the monster Michael Phelps is now the delight of the French swimmer. An already eternal happiness, because with his performances in the Duna Arena in Budapest, Léon Marchand became the first French swimmer to win three individual medals at the Worlds. Huge. “He’s a genius !” Camille Lacourt, five-time world and European champion, now a consultant for France Télévisions, does not mince his words when it comes to evoking Léon Marchand. It must be said that the prowess of the Toulousain with a youthful face is enough to widen the eyes. It is even historical. At 20, Léon Marchand is writing one of the finest pages in the book of French swimming. Not even Lacourt, double individual medalist in 2011 (in Shanghai) and 2015 (in Kazan), nor Florent Manaudou, also double winner in 2015, had brought back three charms from a World Cup. On the other hand, on the side of the swimmers, such a performance was achieved twice. The inevitable Laure Manaudou had, during the world championships in Melbourne (Australia), in 2007, tamed the basins with four individual medals including two titles (in 200 m and 400 m freestyle) and two in silver (in 800 m swimming freestyle and 100m backstroke). But she wasn’t the only one. We have to go back to the Worlds in Perth (Australia) in 1991, where Catherine Plewinski rode the box three times without winning a title (two in silver in the 50m and 100m freestyle and bronze in the 100m butterfly). “Twenty years and already two gold medals in the same world championships in the 200 and 400 meter medley, it’s quite fabulous”, analyzes Camille Lacourt, still amazed by the performance of the young Léon Marchand after having had the “pure pleasure to be able to comment on this achievement.” If the young man has already reached this level at his age, how far can he still go? The prospects are immense, especially when you are well surrounded. The former backstop testifies: “We can’t wait to continue to see Léon Marchand’s progress because, when we train with (Bob) Bowman, we can’t stop when we have the potential he has. We can’t wait to see how he evolves.” The high point is obviously in two years, with Paris 2024 in the viewfinder. It is more than ever a huge French chance of medals. “We know that he will mark world swimming. In any case, he will mark French swimming, without a doubt, begins a dithyrambic Camille Lacourt. He has already marked it in these world championships and I hope that he can shine in Paris. It can also go as far as Los Angeles (in 2028) and a few more years later.” Léon Marchand has a “maturity” in his favor, sketches Camille Lacourt. “He really stayed focused after his 400 meter medley and his 200 meter butterfly, he adds. He is only 20 years old but he is already showing maturity. He really has everything to mark world swimming.” Best university swimmer in the United States, notably beating a record for Caeleb Dressel, now the French record holder in the three disciplines where he shone at the World Championships in Budapest, Léon already has a clear path. And Camille Lacourt savors, as well as the French, this breath of fresh air in the France team, which intends to continue to ignite the pools: “We are lucky to have a swimmer like that.” And it’s only just started.
Welcome! Log into your account
Recover your password
A password will be e-mailed to you.