Budapest World Championships - At the top, Léon Marchand thinks he can "get the record" from Phelps

Budapest World Championships – At the top, Léon Marchand thinks he can “get the record” from Phelps

The white cap in his hands and his feet out of the Duna Arena basin, Léon Marchand no doubt had a fleeting thought for his father, Xavier, world medalist 24 years before him (silver), in Perth (Australia), on the 200m medley: “I am happy to dedicate this victory to him.“, he launched into the microphone of France Television after the race. In Budapest, the Toulousain scattered the competition, touching the wall two seconds before Carson Foster (USA), silver medalist, and signed the second best world performance of all time (4’04”28). What to set a date for the meeting of the Paris Olympics in two years.

I really didn’t think I was swimming 4’04”

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Marchand won at the end of a perfect race with the new European and Championship record at stake, less than half a second from the world record of Michael Phelps, which still stands: 4 min 03.84 at Beijing Games in 2008. A monstrous time. “I really didn’t think I would swim 4’04”. I managed to have fun on the last 100m, I was going all out and it was really fun. I touch the wall and I see the little light that says we is first. It’s really huge, a feeling of phew. I don’t think I realize yet what I did today, but in any case I liked it“, reacted the Toulousain.

The Frenchman is ahead of the two Americans Carson Foster, 20 like him, and Chase Kalisz, 28, Olympic champion in Tokyo last summer. Marchand had already achieved the best time during the heats in 4 min 09.09, a new French record. He smashed that mark by almost five seconds and finished two seconds ahead of Foster (4’06”56) and three over Kalisz (4’07”47).

Eighth French world champion

Her forte, the breaststroke, allowed her to outrun Foster after getting off to a strong start and holding up well on the butterfly and backstroke. “Afterwards, I fish a bit in crawl unfortunately to get the record, but I think next time it could do it“, he said with a smile. This is the first coronation for the young man, from a large family of Olympic swimmers.

Sixth in the Tokyo Olympics last year, Marchand, a new sensation in French and now world swimming, has made impressive progress since then. Trained in Toulouse, he went into exile in the United States just after the Games, where he now trains at the University of Arizona under the guidance of Bob Bowman, the ex-mentor of legend Michael Phelps and specialist of the medley. “I’ve been working hard for this for five years and now it’s coming true. Mentally I have improved a lot, physically too. It was still a world final, I managed to manage the stress and free myself properly“, he analyzed.

More medal chances for him

Marchand brings France its first medal at these Worlds on the banks of the Danube and becomes the eighth French swimming world champion, the first since Camille Lacourt in 2017. In the Duna Arena in the Hungarian capital, he will also try to climb on the podium in the 200m butterfly on Tuesday and the 200m medley on Wednesday.

By winning the title of world champion in the 400m medley on Saturday in Budapest, Léon Marchand, 20, already has the second best time in history on the event behind Michael Phelps: “Now I can call myself a good swimmer“. An observation tinged with euphemism which translates a humility necessary for a glorious tomorrow. From next week?

(With AFP)

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