Triple swimming world champion, Léon Marchand will be one of the spearheads of Paris 2024.
Only 21 years old, but already considered the greatest French swimmer of all time. At the Fukuoka Worlds in Japan, the French prodigy once again splashed the pool with all his talent by smashing Michael Phelps' world record in the 400m medley, allowing him to win his second world title over the distance. But to reach such a level, Léon Marchand and the swimmers have to make many sacrifices on a daily basis. Michael Phelps mentioned it after his retirement, he even thought about suicide during his career. British breaststroke legend Adam Peaty is not at the Worlds due to depression and a sense of "self destruction". Kristof Milak, Caeleb Dressel have also put their careers on hold.
For Léon Marchand, burnout was very present. As 20 minutes explains, quoting his mental trainer Thomas Sammut, the Frenchman had to do a lot of mental work and above all do something other than swimming. "Three years ago, Léon was burnt out. He contacted me, he was at an impasse, on the verge of quitting. He was able to put pressure on himself for results. At one point, it is ultra nerve-wracking. The performance has to revolve around the individual, depending on their personality." Asked about the subject, Léon Marchand never avoided the subject and even compared himself to the American legend. "Michael [Phelps], when he was swimming with Bob [Bowman], he was just doing that. Kind of like what we did at a camp in Colorado in May: eat, sleep, recover, all the time This year, I had a good balance between my friends that I saw every day, my classes and training."
Léon Marchand was born on May 17, 2002 in Toulouse and is the son of two former swimmers: Xavier Marchand, silver medalist at the world championships in the 200m 4 medley in 1998, and Céline Bonnet, backstroker and medley specialist, who notably participated in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. His uncle, Christophe, is also a former Olympic swimmer, now sports director of a swimming pool in Clichy. The young "Léon" obviously bathed in the pools from a very young age, even if he had a preference for judo and rugby before embarking on the footsteps of his parents, until he was crowned French champion in the 200 m butterfly in Rennes in 2019 making him the first French swimmer to obtain such a coronation at 17 years old. A few months later, he won a bronze medal in the 400m medley and the 200m breaststroke at the 2019 European Junior Championships. At the World Swimming Championships in Budapest in 2022, he left with three medals on the clock, including two Golden.
Léon Marchand comes from a line of swimmers. His mother is simply Céline Bonnet, a back specialist and several times French champion. His father, Xavier Marchand, was vice-world champion in the 200m medley in Perth, Australia, in 1998.
The French swimmer, specialist in the 400m medley, is a big guy in the swimming world and measures 1.83m according to the latest data from the FFN.
The day after the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where he participated in his first Olympic final, taking 6th place, Léon Marchand packed his bags to join Arizona State University and a certain Bob Bowman, former mentor of a certain Michael Phelps . Since then, the young prodigy continues to progress and impresses the United States. He made headlines in May 2022 when he broke the NCAA 200-yard medley record, previously held by Caeleb Dressel. A performance that was congratulated by … Michael Phelps on Instagram.
Beyond the results in the swimming pool, Léon Marchand has quite simply evolved since his departure for the United States as he explained to 20 minutes in June 2022. explosiveness. I am much more powerful. Mentally, I have gained autonomy and a lot of experience because I swam a lot in the NCAA (the university championship in the United States). I did a lot of races, a lot of relays. In competition, I now manage to throw myself on the wall to win the race. I swam a lot with Bob (Bowman). I improved in backstroke, in crawl. I have more assets than before. I just swim faster."
Based in the USA, Léon Marchand is under the orders of the legendary Bob Bowman, former mentor of Michael Phelps and learns a lot from the latter. "I was very impressed at first. But he's a really great coach, with a lot of experience. I know I'll be ready for all competitions with him. And then he's really relaxed. He's had a lot of results , suddenly he is cooler, we have a lot of fun in training while knowing in which direction we are going, what we want to do. There is a connection that has been created between us.
Like all French athletes, the goal is the 2024 Paris Olympics, Léon Marchand is no exception and dreams of being an Olympic champion. "My dream is to become an Olympic champion," he explained. Whether it's Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028, that's my long-term goal. "