Léon Marchand, more than ever in the footsteps of Michael Phelps

On Sunday in Fukuoka (Japan), the Toulouse-born broke the world record in the 400m medley, held by Michael Phelps from the 2008 Beijing Games.

In the Land of the Rising Sun, a star has appeared in the cloudy and suffocating sky of Fukuoka. A star of blue, white and red. Indeed, Léon Marchand reached the peak of his discipline on Sunday 23 July. This 400m medley, he knew he could fly it like a certain Michael Phelps back in his day. And failing to climb Mount Fuji, he had decided to tackle this other mountain, equally dangerous to climb: the world record.

The American legend, present in the stands, thus saw his latest record literally swept away by his heir, now twice world champion in the title of his favorite distance. A time that no one had beaten for fifteen years. One year before the Paris 2024 Games, and just twelve months after his first titles on the international scene, the 21-year-old from Toulouse has established himself as the new master of large swimming pools.

The scene is already iconic, as it symbolizes the passing of the baton between the middle emperor, Michael Phelps, and his worthy heir, Léon Marchand. When the American swimmer with 23 Olympic titles came to pick up the young 21-year-old from Toulouse, the terraces of the sublime Marine Messe Fukuoka packed with 15,000 people were set on fire. Bob Bowman, current coach of the Frenchman and former mentor of the American, has not missed the scene.

The best is yet to come“, the now undisputed boss of the medley put in, with shortness of breath, into the microphone of the announcer of the gigantic room. The young man is a glutton.I think he’s the greatest swimmer of all time, so obviously he’s pretty special to mepaid tribute to Léon Marchand to his idol. I met him for the first time this morning too, so it’s fun. She commented on the race, she was very happy for me, so that’s great. I’m super happy that I was able to do it today.

“There are no limits to what I can do”

This record, whether it was Jacco Verhaeren, the boss of the French teams, or Nicolas Castel, his coach since his debut in Toulouse at the age of 9, everyone thought he was capable of breaking. The interested party himself was convinced of this, who on the eve of his race declared: “This is not my goal but a step towards my journey, towards my main goal. Gotta go skip the 4’04”, skip the 4’03”“.

This goal has already put him into shocking oblivion. “I will always look beyond, he assured, sure of his stuff. There are no limits to what I can do, between what I do every day in training, between the intelligence I put into it, between the hardest and the easiest moments… So I think I can keep improving, and get under 4’02”. This is for the sequel.

This lucidity, and this constant search for the “best”, less than two hours after having put almost two seconds to the last world record held by the Olympic medalist (established at the Beijing Games in 2008), says a lot about his approach to competition and his work.

Léon Marchand deletes Michael Phelps from the shelves!  With an incredible performance in the final of the 400 medley in Fukuoka (4:02'50"), the Frenchman won the gold medal and broke the world record in the discipline.  Favorite of the event, he preceded the American Carson Foster and the Japanese Daiya Seto and kept the title of world champion.

His exile in Arizona, just over a year ago, alongside the legendary American coach Bob Bowman, associated with his desire to always collaborate with his Toulouse coach, Nicolas Castel, is bearing fruit. “The dynamics of the competition system in the United States, with the NCAA [le championnat universitaire américain]with the stake, it corresponds to youexplained the French coach… I think Léon is a person who is very up to the challenge.

“We just have to get him into this game a little bit, and he’s into it! It’s a game and he’s enjoying it. He wants his team to win. He wants to perform for him, but also for others.”

Nicolas Castel, coach of Léon Marchand

in Franceinfo: sports

Then, nothing better than returning at the end of the school year near Toulouse, with his faithful coach and his relatives: “I think Léon needs to go back to his sources a bit, to regenerate himself. I think I’m part of his regeneration process (laughs). I therefore position myself as his second trainer and furthermore I also learn a lot from an experienced trainer like Bob. With him everything goes very well because between the three of us there is a real relationship of trust. So I bring something else, more simplicity, a little more relaxation, fun, while being “focused” on our work. That’s right, it’s complementary and it works.

This is the winning recipe of the new king of pools. A blend of two worlds, two styles, inspired by two guides with very different qualities, but motivated by a common goal: to see your colt become the greatest of all. Léon Marchand, if he is only 21 years old, is no longer a simple diamond to be polished. In Fukuoka, and in just one day of competition, he assumed his new status. That of a world record holder. That of the man who canceled the greatest swimmer in history from the shelves. And apparently the “the best is yet to come“.

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