Merchant on all fronts, Manaudou tries the winning comeback, Les Bleues are lurking… The challenges of the French in Fukuoka

From Léon Marchand to Florent Manaudou via Maxime Grousset and Marie Wattel, the Blues want to shine in Japan, one year before the Paris 2024 Games.

The hunt for medals is on. The world swimming championships begin on Sunday 23 July in Fukuoka (Japan). After a particularly successful last 2022 edition (eight medals including two titles), the French team is confidently moving forward.

Léon Marchand’s horrendous appetite, the return of Florent Manaudou, the ambitions of Maxime Grousset and Les Bleues, led by Marie Wattel; the relaunch of the relays… franceinfo: sport takes stock of the challenges awaiting the French team.

Léon Marchand, protagonist of the World Cup?

Never has expectation been so great around a French swimmer. New phenomenon in the basins, Léon Marchand took all the light at the French championships in Rennes, winning five titles in as many races. However, her trainer Bob Bowman warned: “The French championships are a bit like training for him, I prepare him above all for the World Cup”.

In Fukuoka, Léon Marchand will compete individually in the 200m butterfly, 200m breaststroke, 200m and 400m medley. Already titled over these last two distances last year in Budapest (Hungary), Léon Marchand is the gold digger for this French swimming team. And he could very well return from Japan with a lot of loot. Will he also be able to beat Michael Phelps’ legendary world record in the 400m medley (4’03”84)? Bob Bowman could very well see his colt dethrone the one he has already ridden to the top of Olympus, with 23 titles.

Florent Manaudou, again in the foreground

Florent Manaudou is already in Olympic form! The CN Marseille swimmer impressed in the 50m freestyle during the last French Championships in Rennes, setting a time of 21.56s in the heats. A time one hundredth higher than the one that allowed him to win the silver medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021. He then beat Maxime Grousset in the final, thanks to a time of 21 ”62.

This bodes well for the 32-year-old quadruple world champion (4x100m freestyle in 2013, 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle in 2015), who will meet Australian Cameron McEvoy (21”27 this year) and American Ryan Held (21”50 this season). Florent Manaudou, who competes only individually over this distance, hopes to gain confidence at the World Championships, before aiming for a fourth consecutive Olympic medal in the 50m freestyle (gold in London 2012, silver in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021).

Maxime Grousset, time for confirmation

Power 4 for Maxime Grousset in Rennes, during the last French championships. “I only did great times, I got three first places and a good second place”, welcomed at the exit of the Breton docks. Second in the 50m freestyle behind Florent Manaudou, the future physio won the national title in the 100m freestyle, as well as in the 50m and 100m butterfly. On this last distance he established a new French record and obtained the second fastest time in the world behind the Canadian Josh Liendo (50’61 against 50”36).

At 24, Maxime Grousset will have a mammoth schedule as he competes in his four individual events in Fukuoka, as well as eventual relays. Double medal in Budapest (Hungary) during the 2022 world championships, the world vice-champion in the 100m freestyle will try to win a first world title.

Les Bleues to the challenge

If the French men’s team monopolizes the media landscape a bit with Léon Marchand, the Bleues also have good cards to play in Fukuoka. Charlotte Bonnet (200m breaststroke and 200m medley), analio pigrée (50m backstroke and 100m backstroke), 2022 50m butterfly world runner-up Mélanie Henique (50m butterfly) and 100m cut butterfly (100m butterfly) to all names (bassa babysile) 100m butterfly) 100m butterfly) to all butterfly means) from 100m butterfly) to all movements for the Japanese butterfly

Rediscover the luster of the past on relay races

Eight relays scheduled for this year’s World Championships: three men’s (4×100, 4×200, 4×100 medley), three women’s (4×100, 4×200, 4×100 medley) and two medleys (4×100 and 4×100 medley). The density of the French team bodes well after last year’s zero points in team competitions. The Azzurri, who have won only one charm, in bronze, during the last three World Cups (4×100 medley in 2019), can go back to dreaming of gold.

The last relay world title dates back to the 2015 World Championships, when the quartet formed by Metella, Manaudou, Gilot and Stravius ​​​​won the 4x100m, thus retaining a title conquered two years earlier with an almost similar team (Agnel, Manaudou, Gilot, Stravius).

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